Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Woman at the Well Explains Her Actions to the Local Chapter of N.O.W.

The Woman at the Well John 4:1-42


I wrote a one act play for one actor about the Woman at the Well. The woman is seated on the stage in a spotlight. She can either wear contemporary or period clothing. She is being asked questions by the local chapter of N.O.W (The National Organization of Women). The panel of women to whom she is speaking are not visible, nor are their questions audible. The actor pauses between answers. She "listens" attentively, nods and has expressions appropriate to the question being asked.



This is intended as a short drama for a church.


The Woman at the Well Explains Her Actions to the Local Chapter of N.O.W.

By Cynthia Conciatu © 2004



Yes, I want to tell you about the things that happened that day I went to the well. But first, let me say I know what you mean by “women’s work.” Tasks are divided out of necessity. It has to be that way, you see! Division of labor means survival. Men work in the fields. Women take care of the house. Should we all go out to the fields each morning the hearth fires will die out. The children, the elderly and the sick will not be tended to. There will be no one to make bread or draw the water.
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So yes, to answer to your question, of course I went to the well. That is what a woman does. Besides, I have no desire to herd sheep or grow the grain. There are wolves and robbers. And the weather…always so hot or bone chilling! At least, doing my woman’s work, as you call it, I can stay in my warm house when it is wet or cold and enjoy the sweetness of my children.
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Oh, I’m sorry for digressing. I was saying that I went to the well that day. My children waited at home and our mid-day meal was late. I needed water for the bread. And my children were thirsty.
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The bread? Hah! Now you digress! We make it every day, my older daughters and I. The same as my mother made and her mother before her and countless mothers all the way back beyond the one who knew Jacob, who dug the well. It is the only dealing we have with the Jews, this well, otherwise they do not speak to us.
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Yes, the son of Isaac. That Jacob.
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No, I do not have a recipe for the bread. It’s just a little of this and a little of that….
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So, to get back to my story, from the distance I could see a man sitting at the well and from his clothing I knew him to be a Jew. I almost turned to go back, but I remembered my children were thirsty and it was hot and now I was thirsty too from my long walk. So I lowered my eyes and continued towards the well.
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Yes, I admit I lowered my eyes, but I did so because of the sun and the inconstant wind that kicked up the sand. I lowered my eyes because of the brightness of the sun. Not because of the brightness of the man. Did I just say brightness of the man? I don’t think I meant to say that, yet there was something about him… Anyway, I came closer. I thought he would stand and leave. Jews do that you know. They don’t like us. He did not stand though. He looked at me. And I, who have known many men, looked right back at him.
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Yes, I’m sure it was because I am bolder than most women that I looked him in the eye. There was nothing about his eyes that caused me to do this. But…. as I think back now…. I did see something I have not seen in a man’s eyes before. It was …like…love, but not the kind that I have been seeking from men all of my time here on earth. His was an unabashed pure love.
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Because, that’s the only way I can explain it. Those words just now came to me as I spoke them. I hadn’t really given it much thought before now. Well, alright, I admit I have. Yes. Given it some thought, I mean. It’s all I’ve thought of since that day, really.
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But anyway, as I was saying, I came close to him because of the water. I had to make the bread. There was nothing in his continence that drew me closer. It’s just that my children were thirsty. And then he spoke to me. Can you imagine? I jerked my head as though I had been slapped. But those aren’t the right words to use here because there was nothing evil in the way he addressed me. It’s just that Jews do not speak to us Samaritans.
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Oh, Did I already say that? I’m sorry. So to continue with this retelling; all He actually said to me at first was, “Give Me a drink.”
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Yes, you’re right, it sounded more or less like a command. I know what you are saying, but I could clearly see He was tired and thirsty. Besides, He had nothing to draw water with. I obviously did. I mean, had my water jug and that small clay cup with the chip in it. But still, He was a Jew! And I was surprised that He spoke at all.
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I couldn’t keep myself from asking Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me a Samaritan woman? (I know I’ve said this before, but let me explain. The Jews do not like us. They think we are not as good as they. They say we are of mixed ancestry…. half heathen. They say we are not pure as they. That’s what they say.) As it happened, He didn’t answer my question. Instead He said something very surprising. Just listen to His words:
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"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is Who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
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I all but sputtered as, "Sir,” I said, “You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and livestock?"
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Wait. He said living water, didn’t he? Those words. He meant something more than this, I know, but the living water I have heard stories of is sweet and cold and bubbles up from springs and flows in rivers. I cannot even imagine such water. It is not the same as our well. This water that is stagnant and tastes like a goat. But it is water. I am thankful for it.
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Oh, yes, …sorry…. The Man motioned toward the well and replied, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
Well, I tell you, I thought this Man had been out in the sun too long. These words were not making sense to me. I started to move away, but then I realized that He did not otherwise act as though He had devils in Him. Quite the contrary. He was calm and gentle. And this water He spoke of….? There was something in the back of my mind about this. I wanted to think about it. But I could not think clearly. The thought made me thirsty. Thirsty! Can you imagine? And I was still having issues with Him even speaking to me at all. I was perplexed and unnerved. My head covering kept slipping. I had to readjust it several times.
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No, not because I personally feel I have to keep my head covered – no. It’s just that the Son was so bright. I mean sun. But anyway, I said the only thing I could think of: "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."
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And then, (get this!) He says, “Go call your husband to come here.” What an odd thing to say.
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No. It wasn’t because He did not wish to converse with a woman any longer or that He thought I was stupid. Just listen. It will be made clear to you shortly.
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So, I said, “I have no husband,” to which He replied, "You have well said, 'I have no husband', for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." Now I was truly astonished. How could He know this? A stranger.
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No, really! I had never laid eyes on Him before that day. I’ve never left my village, and as I said Jews don’t come this way. They will go miles around just to avoid us. And yet here He was, this Jew, at my well with far more knowledge than an ordinary man.
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No! I will not discuss my husbands here, although it appears by your tone that this is the most interesting part of the story so far. I assure you, once I relate the rest of my story, this, shall we say, “small stone in my sandal” will be of no further interest to you.
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So then I said to him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
He obviously wasn’t interested in pursuing that line of thought though because He didn’t really answer my question at all, instead He said:
"Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
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Yes, yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. I will answer before you ask, because I am getting used to the tone of your questions: He addressed me as “Woman”. In your language it sounds demeaning and harsh. In mine though, it was a gentle and respectful title. And coming from a Jew…! I must say I was stunned. And that thought – the one I mentioned earlier that made me feel thirsty? It was starting to dawn on me that perhaps … well .. I’ll get to that. Let me tell you what I said next!
I said, "I know that Messiah is coming (Who is called Christ); when He comes, He will tell us all things."
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Well, because I thought that would surprise Him – coming from a Samaritan after all. We are not such heathens as the Jews think we are.
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What He did? Oh, He did not even blink an eye.! His gaze was steady and there was that brightness again. From the sun. From the s-u-n.
Then when I thought I’d heard everything, He says, “I who speak to you am He.”
Before I could say anything – and what could I have said after all – other men appeared. They were Jews too and looked at me in distaste. I heard one of them ask the man why He would speak to me. I dropped the water jug and I walked quickly back to my village.
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No. Not because of those other men. It was because of what He had said! “I who speak to you am He.” Suddenly I was no longer thirsty in my mind or on my tongue! I knew to Whom I spoke and I was no longer thirsty! I knew then too that my children and all of the others in my town thirsted as well –not for water – but for what this Man had to tell them.
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I barely took time to readjust my head covering, for this news was too amazing for me to take time for my own needs. I called out to the men who were going about their business.
"Come,” I cried, “see a Man who told me all things that I ever did! Could this be the Christ?"
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Of course, they appeared as astonished as I. I feared for a moment that it was my loosed headscarf and wet eyes and the tremor in my voice that had astounded them. But they saw something else. In my eyes now that I think of it. Some new brightness. They stopped what they were doing just as I had dropped my empty water jug at the well. They approached me and would have walked right past me in their thirst had they known where this Man was.
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No! I did not tell only the men! The women were in need of this Messiah as well. I knew that. There were children on the street. They immediately saw that there was… something… some news… and ran to tell their mothers and sisters to come, just as I knew they would.
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I was quickly surrounded by every person in the town. Everyone. As if we were one body we hurried to the well to hear the words this Man had to say.…to hear everything He had to tell us about the water of life.
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And so it was, that we left the town with doors ajar, fires left to put themselves out, goats loose in the streets and tasks undone. For we were all thirsty from centuries of spiritual drought. We knew in our hearts that the Man at the well offered living water beyond our imagining. We went to Jacob’s well and we spent many hours quenching our thirst in the brightness of the Son.
The S-o-n.




20 comments:

Devoted said...

O, I love it! It is exactly what I have been looking for to use in a specil presentation at our church. I will most definitely give you the writing credit. Thank you muse, Cynthia, thank YOU, Lord!

You are so talented and now God has used you to answer a prayer of mine. Have a great and wonderful day!

steviewren said...

Isn't He good!

Cynthia, you certainly have a God given talent. Your way with words continually surprises me.

Debby said...

The world would have shunned this woman. She was a Samaritan, but moreover a woman of poor reputation. God's judgement is quite different from the world's judgement. There is a reason that God admonishes us not to judge.

Queenie said...

What a gift you have, never for one moment did I wish to rush through this post, gripped to the end.The story gave me a continuity and hope, thank you for sharing this post.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Wow! I feel like I have just been at Worship. What a gifted writer you are and what amazing insights. Thanks for making my day brighter.

I also really like your blog tile too!
Katie

MuseSwings said...

Katie, Thank you so much for stopping by! Thank you too, for your comments. I'll be by to check out your blog!
Cynthia

Devoted - you may use it! Let me know when you do.

Stevie, Debby and Queeny - thank you! I like reading this myself. As Debby says this chance meeting demonstrates that redemption is for each and every one of us - over and over again, if necessary. God is good!

MuseSwings said...

Queenie! I mispelled you name! Please don't send me to the tower!:-0

Blicky Kitty said...

What a beautiful post and what a wonderful thing to read on a Sunday evening. I really love this story because one of the things I have discovered the more closely I listen Sunday morning (now that I've turning into a total church lady) is that Christ's life was all about reaching out to people the rest of the world shunned. I love how you strike such a subtle balance between profound insight and gracious humor. You're a master (mistress) raconteuse!

Bibi said...

Very, very clever, and much more attention-getting than a lot of sermons I've heard.

Lavinia said...

Cynthia, I started to read this but before I can get past the first paragraph I need to know what "N.O.W." is. I have no idea and the knowledge of what that is, may be vital to your post. Please enlighten? Thanks.

MuseSwings said...

Dahlink - It's the National Organization of Women. All about woman's rights and such - I meant to clarify that in the post but had a brain freeze of sorts. Good to see you! What adventure shall we go on this week? We must do something - I have my entire fall wardrobe being delivered from Paris today! No occasion to large or too small for my new chapeaus.

Marie Reed said...

I'll fess up that I didn't read it butt it's nice to see your devotion and involvement in the church:)

Sandy said...

I got chills reading this!!! Fantastic, what a writer you are.
wow Cynthia.

Sea Angels said...

Jane Austen wrote about her world, it was all she knew....now you write about yours......what a talented, and beautiful lady you are.
Have a peaceful and happy week.
Hugs Lynn xx

MuseSwings said...

Blicky, Bibi, Marie, Sandy and Sea Angels - thank you for your kind comments! I am glad you stopped by and enjoyed this story that I love to tell!

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

I visited the other day, got distracted, and forgot to leave a comment. My Bad. Deepest apologies! The story is heart warming and so scripturally sound. I enjoyed it immensely. I like it when important Bible events are put in terms that I can understand. :o) I have to read a Holy Bible that written in 'our' language (not King James, I have trouble comprehending the old English). Keep writing! You have a real God given talent lady. ♥ ∞

MuseSwings said...

Thank you Sparky! I prefer the readable versions of the Bible as well. I'll keep writing if you will!

Anna Lefler said...

What a gorgeous, amazing post! I'm going to go back and read it again but I just had to stop and comment...beautiful.

:^) Anna

MuseSwings said...

Anna - thank you so much!

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Very well written! You have so much talent Miss Cyn! The Lord is so good and He cares so much. He's so sweet and He never sleeps!