The opposite of isolation is love

Reflection for March 15, 2020 on John 4:5-45 | Jesus greets a Samaritan woman and many come to believe because of her testimony

A guest post by our seminarian, Megan Allen

We enter the third week of Lent facing a precarious situation – the COVID 19 pandemic. People are encouraged to practice social distancing, reducing our contact with others to slow the spread of the virus, and to self-quarantine when appropriate. Even for the most introverted, it feels like a time of disconnection and isolation. But what does COVID 19 have to do with the story of the Samaritan woman?

We know she goes to the well to get water alone and at a time of day when others were unlikely to be there. Some suggest this woman might be a social outcast, and I imagine that in the truest sense of the word, the woman was alone. Perhaps experiencing the isolation of social distancing. How long might she have been longing for connection and relationship?

Traditional Orthodox icon of St. Photini at the well with Jesus

We also know Jesus was at the well. I assume she and Jesus are less than 6-feet apart as he chooses to enter into relationship with her. A Jew and a Samaritan – unlikely dialogue partners with a shared history and fractured present. Through their dialogue we hear that Jesus offered this woman the opposite of the isolation she felt. Continued isolation from others can feel like brokenness; like a sorrow deep within our soul. Jesus offers her living water – a renewed relationship of deep connection and love with God. An opportunity to be made whole, even in this place of isolation.

Response to this pandemic demands we distance ourselves from others. Like the Samaritan woman, this leaves us thirsty for connection. But it is also an opportunity to meet Jesus at the well of our lives. We are reminded that as we too navigate the isolation of social distancing and feel the brokenness, anxiety, and fear in our separation from others, we too are offered living water.

What living water is Christ offering you?

About that Journey, artist Meredith Gould
Featured in the forthcoming issue of Soul By Southwest

The Samaritan woman in the Eastern tradition is known as Saint Photini, meaning “the luminous one”. She is a woman of light, quick to share the good news of Christ with others. As we drink from the well of eternal life, how might we respond like the Samaritan woman? We can extend Christ’s living water through inviting others to join us virtually, by reaching out to connect others in love, and by offering ourselves to God’s service, as we are able. May we remember throughout this time that Jesus meets us here, knows our pains, and satisfies our needs.

Note: if you’re finding yourself feeling alone right now, Incarnation is offering community, connection, and prayer several days a week online. Check out our Calendar for the full line-up, and links to join via Zoom. Drop in anytime you can.