Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Today’s Gospel: John 4:27-42

I have always loved this passage and the images it places in my head: of sun and blistering, dry air; of Jesus at Jacob’s well, chatting up the Samaritan woman and offering her the gift of living water; of her dropping her jar in the water-clotted dirt and running, running, back to her village and shouting with glee. “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” she cries. There is no skulking, no shame. Just exhilaration. I try to imagine what it would be like to meet a person who somehow knows every sordid tidbit of my life to date and immediately wanting to post, Tweet and Instagram about it…

I think one of the reasons this passage has always spoken to me is that I didn’t grow up going to church, though most everyone I knew in Midland, Texas did. Though I can’t exactly say why, I fervently believed what I would later come to read in Luke 2:24—that Jesus sees all and knows what is in everyone. The idea of someone, somewhere, seeing everything—and responding with love—comforted me. I remember lying in bed at night and praying to God to forgive my parents’ and brothers’ and my own sins on the assumption that God knew what bad things needed forgiving. Not that I knew they had committed grievous sins. It’s just that we didn’t go to church and I felt compelled to intercede.

By some miracle, I never believed Jesus thought less of us for not going to church. I knew in my little 8-year-old heart that my family was loved regardless and in spite of ourselves. This is probably why I still get choked up when I realize that in spite of all the stupid, greedy, negligent, selfish, thoughtless, indifferent, covetous and awful things I have done in my life (and continue to do), Jesus loves me still!

Faithfully yours,

The Avowal

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free fall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

Denise Levertov (1923–1997)