Diptych: John 4

Teresa told me at lunch today that I was glowing.

Maybe it has something to do with the yellow and purple flowers in front of the white cross-panes of my window. Or the flame to the right of them, struggling to burn away the long wick. This tall candle stands within a cylindrical glass jar making it difficult to light the candle without also lighting my own hand, which barely fits through the narrow opening. Once lit, the flame must fight through pools of melted wax threatening to drown it. The offcentered wick never burns away the wax evenly and so remaining gobs create tall round walls, a turret of wax.

From above, my candle looks like a cistern, drawing up the flame of fire from out of the narrow well of wax. The ancient Israelites used the Hebrew word maqor to mean well or cistern of living water. They believed every woman had a maqor inside of her, a well of life to offer the unborn child in her womb. This is because at the moment of giving birth, they observed a woman’s water bursting. God is also named for having a maqor within him, as a woman does, as I do. Somewhere within my womanly body and girlish spirit, I hold a living maqor of water.

Yesterday at church I broke down. I’m not even sure how it happened. Generally, this is unaccepted by surrounding spectators; it puts them in an awkward situation. I would like to think church is a different place, a home, a community; but I covered my face. I used my hands to keep the water in. I pressed as hard as I could, but my eyes kept flowing. I resorted to using the back of my sleeve to absorb the water of the maqor bursting out of me, a break in the well, trying to patch the hole, to catch the living water as it ran out of me. I was hiding behind my hands, hiding the life flowing out of me, because it felt like a mess. It was a mess. Tears are salty and wet, sticking to my hands, leaving water stains on my shirt, and drowning my eyes.

Jesus loved a woman whose life was a mess. Divorced or widowed five times in one life, she was then left to live with a man who wouldn’t even claim her as a wife. Fittingly, she met Jesus at a well. He made her an offer, her salty water for his fresh water, her tears for his life. She left her empty water jug. I met a man who told me everything I had done. She returned to her village glowing.

Daina Carr is a junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, majoring in English and taking a minor in writing. She hopes to pursue a career in creative writing.