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4. Resting at the Well


Reflection – Resting at the well



You will need my book, Reflected Love: Companioning in the Way of Jesus for this reflective exercise. If you have the book you are invited to engage with the imaginative section of, Chapter five, “Drawing near the well” (pages 40 – 50): “Resting at the well.”

Read slowly through that section, inviting the text to enter via the doorway of your own imagination. Notice the characters that resonate most with you, that is, create the greatest inner vibrations with your own feelings, emotions, body responses, tears and so on. We might assume that these are characters that are inviting your own characters, maybe even with similar names, to step out into the open.


There are five keys that will help you with this exercise:
 

  1. 1. The use of metaphor or imagery—there are things that are too deep for words. For example, how would you describe your experience of the loving relational embrace of Jesus and what it might mean for you to be held within the Divine Embrace? See if you could find a metaphor (Is it something like  . . . !) or an image (It looks like . . . !) to help with your description. Trying out a few metaphors or images will help you to move into this exercise. Try some in your journal.
     
  2. The quality of naiveté—can you adopt the naiveté of the adult (sometimes referred to as “second naiveté”) who can look with the eyes of a child.
     
  3. A lighter spirit and a playfulness—putting away any notion of “how to do this exercise right!”
     
  4. An oblique rather than a direct gaze—the word, “oblique,” has been mentioned in Reflected Love (page 29). You need an “oblique gaze” rather than one that tries to look too directly and analytically! The “characters” of “Resting at the well,” (and your own inner characters) can be very shy and may only reveal of themselves to your gentle and prayerful attentiveness. If the character “Cynicism” turns up, many of the others, like “Deep Desire,” may scurry away into hiding.
     

Submit your imagination to the Holy Spirit—invite the Holy Spirit to guide you through this doorway—the doorway of active and believing imagination.

 

An Example

To further help you into this exercise, I have offered my own example. I was drawn to the character of “Deep Desire,” and this is what unfolded for me. 

  • Take some time with this exercise, even if you allow some space between encounters with the characters from the text that are drawing your attention. You will need a stance of openness, stillness and attentiveness.
     
  • Allow the opportunity for these characters to “draw your attention” in different ways. With one, it might be tears! With another, intrigue or curiosity! With yet another, it might be heightened emotion or pain.
     
  • Also allow space for your responses to be different. My example involved a verbal exchange with Deep Desire. Another character might invite you into imagery. If so, attend to how the image unfolds and the story it might tell.
     
  • See if you can work with at least two characters.

 

 

Character in the Text (page 42)

I notice this character stirs something within me

I invite the same/similar character within me to step forward (come into the light)

Deep Desire gasped in disbelief. So often she had felt diminished from the pain of waiting. The thirst was so great. She knew that her weeping would endure for a night, but her vigil had been long and the night never-ending. Was this to be the morning of her joy?[1] Her whole being now strained to hear and receive everything he said, and each word he spoke carried with it a huge droplet of water that splashed upon her parched tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the character, Deep Desire, emerged in the text, I felt warmth around the region of my heart. A tear began to form in my eye. I reminded myself of the embrace of Jesus and his presence with me. I paused, closed my eyes, and became prayerfully attentive to this stirring within me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep Desire  (for I don’t as yet know you by any other name), I wonder if you might like to step forward and reveal a little of yourself. To my surprise, a person not unlike my younger self stepped through the doorway of my imagination and stood as if to wait for me to enquire after her.[2] The word “waiting” popped into my mind, and even though I felt a little clumsy with my first question, I ask: “What has the waiting been like for you?”  Even as I asked the question, I noticed the tears in her eyes matched by tears in my own. It was then I felt a pain deep within me and somehow knew that the waiting had been long and painful. Then she began to speak!

It was like a conversation with a long lost friend. After a little while she suggested that we both continue to journey with Deep Desire through the story text, while, at the same time, continuing to notice and be attentive to what was unfolding for us. As we did so, we met other characters, who invited our own to come out and join them.

 

First Character

Character in the Text

I am being open, still and attentive to what is stirring within me

Gently inviting the character within me to meet me at the edge of my conscious awareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Character

Character in the Text

I am being open, still and attentive to what is stirring within me

Gently inviting the character within me to meet me at the edge of my conscious awareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

As you encounter these characters—faculties—of your soul, can you open yourself to the One whom:

  • loved you and all of your soul faculties into existence;
  • loved you redemptively—which involved redeeming and enlivening your dissipated and frayed faculties, energies and desires;
  • loved you more into your fuller human identity—your identity in-God—by mirroring back to you through Jesus an icon of human fullness and wholeness; and,
  • continues to love you towards God’s full and final purposes?

You might like to take a page in your journal to make a quick drawing or poetic response on behalf of both the Samaritan woman and yourself to this One; to God, the Trinity.


Hymn/Prayer of thanksgiving and of gratitude
 

Thanksgiving hymn of woman’s “soul community”
 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

fast-bound in sin and nature's night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

 I woke—the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee!

                        (Charles Wesley)

 

My thanksgiving hymn/song/poem/picture


My diary entry

 



Notes:

[1] Psalm 30: 5.
[2] It is not unusual for a male to encounter feminine characters of the soul. They often reflect the more relational and feminine dimensions of our soul.