Have you ever noticed how wells often feature in the bible? Abraham dug his well at Beersheba (Gen 21:25-32) as a symbol of peace between Abraham’s people and the Ishmaelites. When Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac the servant finds her by a well. After Abraham dies the Philistines fill in the wells and Isaac’s servants have to open them up again. Isaac then dug three successive wells (Gen 26:19-22) the first two of which became the focus of disputes between his people and the herdsmen of Gerar, so Isaac moved on and dug a third, which was undisputed so Isaac called it Rehoboth (room) and claimed it as his own; if nobody else claimed the water it was because there was nobody else there. Moses met his future wife at a well (Exodus 2:16-21). Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. The bitter water well at Marah (Exodus15:22-25), which the Israelites desperately needed to survive in the desert and Yahweh instructed Moses to throw a piece of wood into the well and the water became sweet.
Living water is mentioned in the Bible over 1500 times.In the mundane day-to-day aspect of life this makes perfect sense. You cannot live where there is no water. Astrophysicists studying other planets look first for evidence of water to see if there is a chance of life being present. As far as I am aware nothing can live without some access to water or at the very least moisture. In a late iron age society the well would have become the focal point of the life of any and every community and the size of the community would have been dictated by the amount of water available. A quick look at an atlas will show almost every large city in the world has at least one river running through it. As the city of Rome outgrew the Tiber great engineering works were undertaken to transport water via aqueducts from springs and rivers miles away to public fountains.
The one thing wells have in common is depth; someone has to work very hard to dig them. So it is with our spiritual journey, deep calls unto deep (Psalm 42:7) and if you want to get deep you have to do the digging. We usually get into trouble or do our stupid stuff when we stay on the surface of things. How many times have I said to myself ‘I should have looked at that closer’? How many times have you said it in your life? The riches of our faith will not be found on the surface. We need to dig down to find the truly enriching, the truly empowering. Staying on the surface will do no more for us than re-affirming what will eventually become lifeless rituals and doctrines; religious clichés that do nothing to feed the soul and ask nothing of the soul; a barren and destructive relationship where one side or the other will inevitably come to resent the other. We don’t all have to do the actual digging but we do all have to commit to the effort and contribute what we can be it moral support or mending the shovels. We need to study together the great mysteries; the Great Tradition; alternative orthodoxy; modern psychology; quantum physics. It doesn’t matter what we study because it is all under God’s sky; it only matters that we study something as a pathway towards Jesus. We each of us have our own pathway; you won’t find it in old habits or new armchairs.
May the Good Lord Bless you and keep you; may the Good Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Good Lord look kindly upon you and grant you peace. Amen