Amanda dragged herself out of bed in the sticky, dark predawn. Her first step was to look out the window at the sleepy eyed landscape. Involuntarily her eyes swept up to the sky. She couldn’t help herself and she hated herself for it. Two years of waiting for rain had enmeshed her in a net of anger and regret and she had to look at the sky each morning.
She struck the window sill with her fist. Outside Beau the donkey bellowed his mournful bray into the still morning. Famished goats echoed his demand for breakfast. Just a little smile lifted one corner of her mouth. To be an animal was so simple! What if, she asked herself for the hundredth time, I just worried about eating and drinking?
Her boots broke the crisp, dry grass. It was winter brown, winter barren yet this was only July. As she numbly fed her animals, impatient with their frantic milling and grabbing the first and best, Amanda screwed herself up to face her enemy, the sun.
That gentleman rose as usual, rubbed the sleep from his eyes with abandon, and crept up over the brow of the forest. His orange rays caught her with impunity, demanding attention. But Amanda hated him. She never thought she would hate the sun. He certainly had the last laugh! Even with her back turned, as she scrubbed out the water trough, she could see that the sky was barren as well. She shrugged in a bit of sarcastic humor and turned on the hose, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the days when the low hung rain bloated clouds fled swiftly over, smattering a few tortuous drops on her head.
“You know,” her friend Jesse had told her, “God isn’t punishing you. It rains on the just and the unjust….things like this happen. The earth is patient about it.”
“I’m dried up,” Amanda gulped water which didn’t even satisfy any longer, “What if he takes me over – I am not myself any more?”
Jesse smiled, “You are made in His image to begin with, silly. Belonging to Him just allows him to refresh and transform you. Take this drought – your soul is in a drought too. His water will be a spring welling up inside and you’ll never dry up.”
Their friendship was from childhood so Amanda, though doubtful, could listen with openness – and for the first time, longing, “If only that were true!”
“Well,” Jesse grinned, “There is only one way to find out!”
“I know, I know!” groaned Amanda, “give myself over? Surrender?”
Jesse said nothing but twirled his own empty glass in his hands. Like the earth, he had learned to be patient in drought – but also prayerful. Amanda had come from the bottom – she had rescued herself and tried to glue the pieces together herself. She was a cracked, fragile figurine aching for life.
A single tear slid down Amanda’s cheek and plopped onto the glass topped table, “I’m afraid.”
Jesse snorted, “Well you won’t be alone! He won’t bite you, I promise.”
“Oh Jess,” she finally smiled and wiped her cheek, “You are so sure of yourself.”
“And you aren’t?” he pressed.
Amanda pondered this conversation as she scuffed a boot through the dust. She settled herself on a parched hill and mourned under her favorite oak tree. Her hand crept up to and caressed the knobby, wrinkled face – how do you survive this, she asked?
Unbidden the answer came, “My roots run deep.”
And in that desiccated moment Amanda understood what Jessie was trying to say. Unbidden also came into her mind a scripture that she had heard. It was because it involved a woman with a past. And she was a woman with a past. Yet Jesus spoke to her, said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”*
“I’m so thirsty, Jesus,” Amanda whispered.
Amanda felt delightfully drenched as she rose from her baptism. She felt delightfully clean; spring fresh. She wouldn’t have been surprised if grass grew between her toes. There was truly a wellspring gushing within. Jesus had given her back herself. “My roots will grow now,” she thought. She couldn’t wait to talk to Jesse again, but she knew now they were in the wellspring together.
*John 4:10 Revised Standard Version
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