There once was a woman…

…she met Jesus at a well…

I saw that well. I touched its stones and its water. I went to the well to see the place where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, in “a Samaritan city called Sychar[1], near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water…” (John 4:5-7)

There are holy sites all over the holy land. Some for the Christians, Jews, Muslims and others, some for multiple faiths, some are more disputed and some seem more certain. Jacob’s Well, some say is considered one of the most authentic sites in the Holy Lands and Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims all associate the well with Jacob.

I saw that well. I touched its stones and its water and more than anywhere else I have been in the Holy Lands I was moved. I stood there in awe of being in the place where Jesus spoke about the water that gives life to an unknowing woman who had just been going about her day and happened across a man that would tell her everything she had ever done and change her faith and her future forever…

People still go regularly to drink the water and see the well, I hope they feel and remember Jesus there too. I hope they touch that well and that the well touches them. Seeing the well made the story (John 4:5-42) more real somehow and my faith in the Jesus, who gave and gives the water of life, refreshed.

Over the well a church has been built repeatedly through the years. The most recent one was completed in 2007. It has a beautiful mosaic in front of the entrance and has been built in the basilica style from Crusader times.

To get to the well you have to take some steps down to the crypt. They ask you to not take pictures but the internet is full of them – so check them out.

I traveled there with a group of lovely people from North America and the Middle East. The Priest in residence was quite a sport as well…

[1] At different biblical times the city was also referred to as Shechem. Today the city is called Nablus.


What is it that holds us together?

And for that matter, what is it that holds us apart?

Is it will, circumstances, opportunities, restrictions? What is it?

Is it a bit of all of these?

I visited a thoughtful art museum in Jerusalem, the Museum on the Seam. As the museum’s website describes itself, it is a “unique museum in Israel, displaying contemporary art that deals with different aspects of the socio-political reality.” It’s a museum that “calls for listening and discussion, for accepting the other and those different from us and respect for our fellow man and his liberty.”

Even though the Museum’s name and location, (it is situated on the boundary of East and West Jerusalem and in an old military Israeli forward post of the wars of 1948 and 1967,) it is not a museum about only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it wrestles with conflicts and human adversity from various perspectives from many situations and realities all over the globe.

It puts our conflicts and our disagreements into dialogue. Sometimes I wonder if we are held closer together somehow in our conflict than we are even in our joy and peace. There is a mutual pain that some how binds. I recall the slightly pessimistic, though often practical, advice; keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

This is a provocative land where people rub up against each other and then are separated by walls in their hearts, minds and land, with a few people daring to dance in and around the seam. Just like the clothes we wear it is the seam where different pieces connect and it is the seam that holds it all together. Dialogue and understanding happen in and at the seam because that’s the only place it can.

I’ve loved the people I have met at the seam.

You may not be able to read what is written in Hebrew, Arabic and English (in neon) on the front of the museum, “Olive Trees will be our borders.”

..And yes the building still holds the scares of war. Let the seam be for dialogue not for war.