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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Letting Go of Empty
By Pat Guy


Men were not a problem. In fact, she felt more comfortable with men than with the women in her village. Women tended to be … well … let’s just say, she didn’t have any friends.

She was ready to despair of life anyway – too many failed marriages – too many years of loneliness; men were just a means of survival … and escape. Marriage, nor life, held any hopes for her.

She sighed at the thought that one must still eat, draw water and have a roof over one’s head – it was all so tedious and tiresome.

The worn dusty path reminded her of the monotony of each day – she kicked at pebbles washed in by recent rains. Rain. Another reminder of the need for shelter, another reminder that no one cared.

A sudden gust lifted her shawl cooling a fine mist on arms wrapped around a water jug. Jacob’s well was not much further now … she must hurry. It had been a long hot day but clouds were beginning to gather.

She quickened her pace. Then slowed up. There was a man resting against the stone enclosure. She stopped short. This man is a Jew! She suppressed a sneer at the way Jews shunned her race. After all, it wasn’t their fault Jews committed adultery with Gentiles. They created Samaritans and now rejected them. How like the high and mighty Jews!

It still made her feel uneasy though – unsure how this Jew would react to her drawing from this well. Not only was she Samaritan, but a woman. She dared not speak to him. But she needed water and had every right to draw from the same place of her ancestors … and his.

The man opened his eyes and turned to the woman. He rose to his feet and watched as she came closer.

She lowered her eyes and looked away. But not before she noticed the slight sway of his stance and the parched fatigue upon his face. And there was something else … the way he looked at her. Surely he wasn’t going to speak!

She set the jug on the stonewall and lifted the cover, then began to attach a rope – aware of his attention. Another breeze wafted the cool scent of water. “Will you give me a drink?” He spoke kind yet weary.

Taken aback, her fingers fumbled, and the jug almost tipped forward unbound – quick reflexes saved the precious container but the skip of her heart was lost in awe. First this man stands when I arrive, then he speaks to me! Why? She willed her face to reveal nothing as her eyes remained focused on the jug. Cheeks burned from betraying startled emotions.

“Sir … you saw my direction. Your people do not speak to us. How can you ask me for a drink … a woman?”

“If you knew who I was, you would not only ask me for a drink but for living water that quenches thirst forever.”

Living water? Forever? Now she couldn’t help but look at him. She was taken aback once again and hugged the jug tighter. Even as a child she had never seen, nor felt such kindness. How could this be? I don’t understand!

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with, but please, give me this living water you speak of so I’ll never thirst nor have need of coming to this well.”

“First go back and bring your husband with you.”

Perplexed, she stammered, “I … I have no husband.”

“You speak the truth. The fact is, you had five husbands and are now living with a man who is not.”

Will this Jew not cease to amaze her? “Are you a prophet, sir? My people worship at this mountain. And one day Messiah will come and explain everything to us.”

He looked full into her searching eyes, then spoke more than words, “I am He who speaks to you.”

A spark of a flame flowed warm through her veins.

Disgruntled murmurs in the distance drew her attention away to a group of men approaching, but new life had already begun to grow deep in her soul.

She looked back to the One of Living Water – then twisted around to view the village of her people. The empty vessel still clutched to her breast. She turned, and looked full into loving eyes … and she knew.

She let go, and ran …

His disciples were surprised to find Him speaking with a Samaritan woman.

Based on John 4:1-30

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon09/14/07
This is a beautiful retelling of the Bible story. You brought the Samaritan women, and the whole scene, to life. Nice job.
Dee Yoder 09/14/07
This is really splendid! I love the descriptions and the interpretations of the character's actions. While I read this, I was thinking about how Jesus was often found speaking to women, and including women though they had a lowly status during His time on Earth. This retelling of the familiar story is wonderful!
Gregory Kane09/15/07
Good reworking of a familiar Bible story with fresh insights into how the encounter might have affected the Samaritan woman. I thought that the ending was spoiled by the comment about the disciples being surprised - ending simply with “she let go and ran ...” would have been much more dramatic. One other thing: I wasn’t at all clear as to what you met about Samaritans being an adulterous liaison between Jews and Gentiles. That’s not something I have heard before.
Joanne Sher 09/15/07
A GREAT job of giving us the Samaritan woman's perspective - very insightful. I would drop the last line - took some of the punch out. Great characterization.
Linda Watson Owen09/17/07
Oh, wonderful story! You've really captured the 'I'm right there' feeling for the reader. You asked about the last line. I think I'd leave it out too. The line about her realizing who Christ is takes care of the surprise element and the sudden dropping of the empty jars ties in perfectly with your perfect title. It doesn't really matter to me who the men approaching are either. Great job making this Biblical story come to life!
Loren T. Lowery09/17/07
I don't think you need the last lilne, either. However I think you have a wonderful allegorical opportunity working with that phrase of the "empty vessel" . Like the Biblical passage itself, there is so much to see and consider in this piece.
Jan Ackerson 09/17/07
Wonderful, wonderful story--I love the little details you put in, like kicking at pebbles, rain on her arm...that's what makes her real to us.

Lose the last line.
Julie Ruspoli09/17/07
I loved the title. The description was perfect. The last sentence is not necessary though, unless you were continuing the story.
Marita Vandertogt09/18/07
I agree that the last line is not necessary. The ending is quite powerful without it.
Well done.
David F. Palmieri Sr.12/05/07
"Letting Go of Empty"...This title is what drew me to read this article. How often we hold tightly to "empty, worthless things," that burden us. We all need to focus on "the Living Water." Beautiful story.