Bishop Irja Askola: Bible Meditation August 23rd 2017

Irja Askola 23.8.2017



Bible Portion – John:   4:1-42

               She never meant it to be this way

all this was not her dream nor her plan

                        anyway, the dominant culture

                         discriminated against her people   –

                                      Samaritans were to be avoided

                         but something in her personal journey

                         made her own people suspicious of her as well

                 others invited her no more in

                 and she sentenced herself to isolation.

                                       Why should I try to explain

                         they wouldn’t understand.

                 Gradually the rule became clear.

                         no-one asked her anything, she told no-one anything

                         shopping at the market she felt behind her back that

                         they whispered thoughts about her   –

                         about her many men   –   they all seemed to know

                         but for her feelings, they showed no concern

                         Her contact with the communitybecame less and less

                         she erected a wall of separation about her

                          she had to get away from those

                          whose good will was cloaked

                          with curiosity or superiority

                           and so she rather bore the hot sun of midday

                            walked alone all the way to the well

                            for her daily water.

                                          Far away were those mornings

                             when she joined other women

                             sharing news, giving and receiving.

                                      Today everything went differently   –

                                      the silence in the pressing heat

                                      was broken by the voice of a man

                                       one friendly request

                                       begins a process  which returns the woman

                                       to her community   

                                       and to herself

                              Someone starts discussing with her

                              accepts her as a person with opinions

                              not only as a female body

                              and all of a sudden

                              she remembers   –

                              how it feels to be asked

                             to be listened to, to be taken seriously

                             she even wants to make sure

                             that the man understands

                             the unusual situation

                                      “but you are Jewish”                                      

                                       they do not speak with us Samaritans

                                      and never publicly with a woman

                                      drinking out of her bucket

                                       ignoring even the ritual purity

                               and all of a sudden she remembers   –

                                        how it feels to be seen  

                                       clean, whole, “like the others”

                               The dialogue goes on   –

                               no teaching, no advice

                               but an open space

                               where everything can be called

                               by its right name

                               and all of a sudden

                               she remembers   –  

                                        how it feels to be able          

                                        to tell someone                                                          

                                       how things in her life actually are.

                             Slowly and discreetly

                             the wall of isolation comes down

                             and she runs back to her village

                             and all of sudden                                      

                             she remembers   –                                                  

                                         how it feels to have news

                                         which she can share

                         and in the early morning hours

                         we find her now

                         going to the well

                         chatting with others

                         and she looks different

                         she looks as a woman who has got back her self-esteem

                        over and over again

                        she thinks of that special midday

                       and she knows

                                    healing starts

                                   when you do not come to help me

                                    but be present, just available

                                    to share with me what we can.

                                    healing continues

                                    when you do not see me as a problem

                                    but as a whole person

                                   who has a problem

                                    among the other things I have

                                    healing goes on

                                    when you don’t advise me to forget

                                    but you help me to remember.

– Irja Askola