Wells have an important place in the Bible. This is not surprising. Wells so often had a central role in ancient communities of the Middle East. Abraham provides wells for his people, Jacob on his journey is drawn to a well, Jesus meets and talks with a Samaritan woman at a well.
At the village well people gathered, especially women and children, to collect water for the home. The well was a place of meeting, where news could be exchanged, advice sought and comfort received.
Animals came to the well to drink and to be refreshed. The well was a place of equality, a place where common needs were satisfied. The well was a place of meeting, an inclusive place.
The Retreat Association Icon of the woman at the well was recently displayed over several days at St Chrysostom’s. On the Sunday evening on which it was displayed a group of people gathered around the icon and out thoughts and prayers were helpfully, and skilfully, guided by Andrew Rudd, Poet in Residence at Manchester Cathedral. We were encouraged to simply be still and gaze at the story the icon represented and be part of that story. Andrew helped us engage by reading the account of the woman at the well from St John’s Gospel, and by telling us of some of the significant features of the icon.
Each of us was encouraged to find our own understanding, our own space, with Christ at the icon.
The image of Christ sitting at the place of need, and talking with the woman at the well, was a powerful image of acceptance and inclusion.
There were about twelve of us united in prayer and reflection around the icon that evening. Among us there was huge variety. One person had never been in the church before, two were people in very difficult circumstances, one was homeless, seven different nationalities were represented, our ages ranged from 7 to 71… Together, equally, we gathered with the woman at the well. We came to the well, to a space with Christ where all were welcome, and we sat and listened.