Lent 3: We Will Find Wellsprings

Image: We Will Find Wellsprings for Our Deepest Thirst
© Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Lent 3, Year A: John 4.5-42

A Samaritan woman came to draw water.
—John 4.7

Wholly seen. Wholly known. A woman sets out on a daily task, carrying her water jar with her. She returns from her task transformed, proclaiming what she has seen and heard, her water jar left behind.

It is no mistake that this encounter happens at a well, and one established by no less a figure than Jacob, who knew what it meant to meet God by the waters and become forever altered. On the day that Jesus encounters this woman of Samaria, the well echoes with all the waters that have flowed through the story of God: the waters through which God has created, gathered, graced, comforted, delivered, and renewed the people of God.

As the woman talks with Jesus, the well echoes, too, with her own story, both spoken and unspoken. The tale of her entire life resonates in the space between her and Jesus, and in the knowing that passes both ways.

In this Lenten season, where do you need to go to be seen like this, to be heard in this way, to be known as this woman was known? What part of your story do you most need to give into the hands of someone who will receive it with gentleness, who will invite you to see it in its wholeness, who will help you listen for the wellspring that its hollows contain?

Blessing of the Well

If you stand
at the edge
of this blessing
and call down
into it,
you will hear
your words
return to you.

If you lean in
and listen close,
you will hear
this blessing
give the story
of your life
back to you.

Quiet your voice.
Quiet your judgment.
Quiet the way
you always tell
your story
to yourself.

Quiet all these
and you will hear
the whole of it
and the hollows of it:
the spaces
in the telling,
the gaps
where you hesitate
to go.

Sit at the rim
of this blessing.
Press your ear
to its lip,
its sides,
its curves
that were carved out
long ago
by those whose thirst
drove them deep,
those who dug
into the layers
with only their hands
and hope.

Rest yourself
beside this blessing
and you will
begin to hear
the sound of water
entering the gaps.

Still yourself
and you will feel it
rising up within you,
filling every emptiness,
springing forth

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “We Will Find Wellsprings for Our Deepest Thirst,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

6 Responses to “Lent 3: We Will Find Wellsprings”

  1. Bee Jay Mar Says:

    Dearest Jan,
    Thank you for the lovely art work and poem/prayer!
    I am doing a labyrinth walk on the Woman at the Well on Tuesday. I see this poem as a final blessing. — I am focusing on the WATER piece, and not the whole passage. Wednesday is World Water Day, so thirst and quenching is a good stopping point.
    Love your work.
    Am still stuck on Eve, in Sanctuary of Women!

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Bee Jay, thank you! So grateful for your words. I hope you had a wonderful labyrinth walk on Tuesday. How fitting that the story of the woman at the well should come up in the lectionary so close to World Water Day! Many blessings to you.

  2. Lynda Says:

    Jan, the colours and texture of your painting are so beautiful. I sent this blessing to a friend with whom I had just been speaking about her past and the challenges and decisions she had made. I pray that it will be a consolation to her as it is to me. Blessings.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Lynda, thank you for the gift of your words and for sharing this blessing with a friend. Deep peace to you in these Lenten days.

  3. Ellen Ratmeyer Says:

    Jan, love this reflection…a place I have been dwelling throughout Lent. I was pleased to provide copies of your “Circle of Grace” to the 22 retreatants who were part of an annual Directed Lenten Retreat at the Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck, NY a couple weeks ago. We used the Woman at the Well poem and scripture for one of our small groups and what shimmered for me above all else was “Quiet your voice…your judgement…the way you always tell your story to yourself.” And then…”Rest yourself beside this blessing and you will begin to hear the sound of water entering the gaps…” Such amazing imagery. Your art work is profound! Much love to you and many thanks.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Ellen! Your words always come as a blessing to me. I’m grateful to you for sharing Circle of Grace with those who were on retreat recently! How lovely. I send you much gratitude and many blessings on your Lenten path.

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