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She had big problems, she was confused, she did not know what to think. Her failed marriages kept haunting her, and her latest romance left her unsatisfied. All her life, she had searched for the great love. But she was dogged by bad luck. She was nearly fifty years old already. She would have liked to redeem herself in the eyes of her family and of society, and make peace with religion. But it was rather late. So many jugs broken, so many pieces to glue back together...

She had committed errors, even crazy things, to please all those from whom she expected the love she had dreamed of. So much so, that, at the end, she ran out of steam, without having succeeded in pleasing anyone. With each step, she was afraid of making a mistake, asked herself if she could not do better, and questioned herself, felt guilty about everything, even of her best shots. Her friends and her husbands saw it clearly, and all took advantage of the situation by abusing her. She was a woman who had lost her way. She did not exist anymore...

One day, at the time when the sun hits the most, she took her empty jug and went to the well to fetch water. Someone approached her and asked her to give him a drink.

This was a rather unusual situation because both of them belonged to feuding races and to competing religions. And to cap it all, she was a woman and he was a man. It was forbidden that a woman would stand in public with a man other than her husband or a close relative. This could cost her own life.

The man in question was Jesus. As usual, he did not trouble himself with the social barriers and the religious taboos. He was the one to make the first move. The woman at first stepped back, and then she pulled herself together. This was not the first time that she was deviating from the norm, anyway... And so, she decided to face the music. The dialogue began.

It did not take a long time for Jesus to figure out that the woman was not only thirsting for water. And so, he spoke to her with words that, in today's language, would go about as follows: « Woman, wait a second! You have a conscience. It is your conscience that makes of you a person and not an object. If you are yourself and not someone else, and if you are free, it is thanks to your conscience. Nobody has a right over your conscience. Listen to your conscience. Nobody has the right to judge you.

Your conscience is all that you possess as the most sacred. No one ever taught you that, I know. You never heard about that. That is why you never existed. You are all spread apart, torn into thousands of pieces, hooked to everyone and to nothing. You were told about tasks, obligations, laws, customs, habits; you wanted to satisfy all of that, safe to yourself.

You were never told that you are great, important, and unique. That truth is deeply within you, talking to you. It is telling you that it is not a sin that you have looked for the great Love. On the contrary, that is what you had to do. Pity that you did not succeed.

Well, I tell you that you are inhabited by light, by the divine and by so much beauty! No religion can take away from you whatever of that reality which is there and speaks to you from within.

Your conscience is the voice of that beauty! Do not be afraid of listening to it. It will not deceive you. It is not the enemy of God. For those who believe, it is the greatest Gift that God has given to the human being.

Follow your conscience. Do not be afraid to think « I », to say « I » in the light of someone greater than everything, who is at the origin of all and who loves you more than anything else. You are the image of it. He is « I am » and that is also who you are.

Forget your failures. You had to search that great Love, and you must continue to do so, because it is for that reason that you exist. That thirst comes to you from God himself who is Love, from that God whom before long men and women like you will not worship on mount Gerizim nor in the temple of Jerusalem, but within their heart. They will worship Him/Her « in spirit and in truth » with that clear conscience which makes a "person" out of each human being.

The woman was drinking those words like water flowing freely into her thirsty heart... So much so that she forgot her empty jug right there and joyfully ran to inform the people of her village that she had just made the discovery of her life.

She felt that she was really being born for the first time and that she was loved by God.

The labels were disappearing. All that was known about her, that she was a Samaritan woman, that she was of mixed blood and belonged to a semi-pagan religion, that she was a lady with a totally disastrous love life, that she was the lover who, after sharing her life with six men, had doubts whether she had been loved for real; well, all that seemed as if it would stop to exist.

The many veils which covered her true face blew away in the wind.

She was becoming «a person».

John 4: 1-30


Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

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