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.

My Surreal Reality

Did you ever have an experience where you woke up every single day and said “this must be a dream?” Then you are starting to appreciate how these past 2 months have felt for me. I so often feel overwhelmed by the surreal reality that is my life right now. Who would have imagined what time spent away could do and where it might place me…

I traveled from Bangalore to Tirupati to see the community of and talk to the congregation of St Luke’s Lutheran Church of the SALC (South Andhra Lutheran Church). The SALC has had connections with the ELCA and her predecessor bodies.

Everywhere I go I am translated by someone, as my fast American accent is a bit confusing to the British English with an Indian accent that is spoken here. Sometimes I really wish I knew the language but then it seems we are able to make ourselves understood even without words. A gentle touch on the back, a strong arm stopping you from danger, one word and a finger pointing you in the right direction, eyes of fear and question and smiles of friendship…

When I spoke at St Luke’s I was honored to be translated by The Rev. M. Vijaya Victor, the first woman to be ordained in the SALC. I think she did well, but there were a couple times she gave me the look which said, “You want me to say what???” (I am sure this is not surprising to hear…) Just like I reminded the congregation of St Luke’s, Jesus goes before us, just like he said he would. (Mark 16:7) Thank you Jesus for the multitude of ways you work through us and the people we meet!

Bangalore – UTC

Its gorgeous here. It feels slightly like being in a fairy tale. Gurukul was surrounded by the city and by noise, UTC (United Theological College) is more like buildings amidst the gardens…

But lest you think this is a sleepy place, don’t go so fast. I think it is going to be quite interesting to be here. The first professor I met face-to-face was Dr Evangeline Rajkumar, one of the most articulate feminist theologians I have met anywhere. I will be sitting in her lectures while I am here. How interesting to be in a country defined by patriarchy and raise yourself up to be a voice that questions every tradition and every understanding that keeps patriarchy as the standard. She was even featured in a national magazine here this month, One. Check her out.