Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise;
your power is immense and your wisdom beyond reckoning . . .
you arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy
because you have made us and drawn us to yourself,
and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD)
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that our world today is wracked with restlessness, a restlessness that sometimes leads to desperate acts, even despicably evil acts. The quote above, now nearly 17 Centuries old, still calls us to pause and consider its truth, stunning in its simplicity, its offered solution to the demands of our souls.
The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well is a beautiful illustration. Her needs were great. She carried her shame like a highway billboard. Her avoidance of the women of her village shouted her shunning. Her encounter with a Jewish man, talking with her in broad daylight, was troubling at so many levels. Her desperate need (our need, too) to be known, to be seen, to be accepted, to be loved, is painfully exposed under Jesus’ gaze. I love that she is not named in the Gospel accounts (she could be us!). Her path to getting to the brokenness of her current situation is not explained in all its ugliest detail (her past could be ours!). Jesus’ steady, loving, gaze into her eyes, his all-knowing Word of Knowledge, his refusal to be the source of one more rejection, one more betrayal, caused her defenses to slowly melt away, her eyes to finally open to his truth, her soul to find its rest – in Jesus! The story is beautiful because it could be ours.
To live freely and lightly, we, too, need to meet Jesus ‘at a well,’ to be cleansed and liberated from the guilt and shame that threatens to suffocate us, and keeps us from truly singing the song of the Lover of Our Souls. Ah, rest! PD