By the Well

Samaria Elle, a vivacious belle,
Could not compel her only friend Nell
To walk to the well and vent about Mel.

Oh well, thought Elle, it’s just as well
I go myself to the well
To fume about Mel
Who went with Danielle
To that sleazy motel…

How do you do? Said the Jew.
She almost withdrew –
A drink, Said the Jew.
And he meant it too.

What else could she do
But question this Jew?
Jew, did I misconstrue
Your odd point of view?

Elle if you only knew
The gift of God,
said the Jew.
You would ask for the dew
Of the well I hold out to you.

What well? Asked our Elle,
The vivacious belle,
Of the Jew by the well.
(She’d forgotten about Mel.)

Drink of this water first
And again you will thirst.
But the water spring I will give,
From within you will burst!

Sir, give me this water,
Said our Elle by the well.
Bring me your husband,
Said the Jew, ever gentle.

I have no husband, Said Elle,
As her heart fell.
So true! Said the Jew,
For he knew Elle and Mel well.

You’re a prophet, Said Elle,
Ready for farewell.
She’d had enough of this Jew by the well.

Our worship is different, Said Elle to the Jew.
Said the Jew to our belle, The Father seeks you,
To worship in spirit and true,
For you will soon know salvation is from the Jews.

I know the Messiah is coming,
Said vivacious Elle,
He will proclaim all things!
Her heart beginning to swell.

I am He, said the Jew,
The one who is speaking to you.
And He meant it too.

She ran home with the news,
Our belle by the well.
For what else could she do
But put her trust in this Jew?

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John 4: 4-42 The Woman at the Well

In the heat of the noonday sun, Jesus sat down at Jacob’s well, tired from his journey.  He was thirty miles into a 70 mile walk.  His disciples, presumably just as tired, had gone into town to buy food.  Sychar was a town in Samaria, a place charged with tension from a long-standing feud between Samaritans and Jews.  But He was just a guy, resting by a well.

His disciples probably felt more than a little awkward going grocery shopping in this town, but I imagine their hunger pangs and Jesus’ preparation on the way there gave them the courage to leave their comfort zone, to put themselves at the mercy of Samaritan merchants, to risk confrontation in ‘enemy’ territory.

A Samaritan woman, an outcast, an ‘enemy,’ came to draw water.  She no doubt notices him there, notices he is a Jew.  Maybe she wonders why he was not with the other Jews that she passed on her way out of town.  Was she concerned for her safety?  Did she find him attractive?  Maybe she was lost in her own thoughts and didn’t care one jot that he was there at all.

I imagine Jesus was looking at her, watching her draw the water from the well, waiting patiently to look her in the eye when she was finally bold enough to look at him.  What an amazing moment. Jew to Samaritan was totally irrelevant. Person to Person.  Man to Woman.  Merciful God to Sinful Woman.

He made this woman.  He made her soul.  He knew her past, her heart, her yearnings, her choices.  He knew every tear she ever cried, and how many hairs were on her head.  He would die for her.

I am always amazed at the restraint of God.  Every moment of His life, He must have been bursting with love for each soul he encountered, desperate to bear hug them, kiss them, pick them up and spin them around, heal them, protect them, assure them of the Father’s unfathomable love and mercy, and the freedom He longs to give!

He is the Word of God, sprung forth from His mother’s lips in the Magnificat, His Soul a raging fire that proclaims the greatness of God! … but what meek, gentle, non-thunderous Godly sentence does He who made the oceans say to this lonely woman?

“Give me a drink.”

She is confused… Huh?  You looked at me?  You spoke to me?  Aren’t we supposed to hate each other?  Where is your wall?

Jesus dives deep right away.  No small talk, no chit-chat, no time to waste.  “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 like that.

Keep that sentence in your pocket today as you feed a poor person, care for an infant, or visit someone in prison.  What can this person, who is so in need, so vulnerable, perhaps even repulsive and undignified, what could they possibly have to offer me?  How could my giving to them actually give life to me?

By asking God for it.

And after you have asked and been given life, you will have more life to give, which will yield more life for the asking, which you give, which yields more life until you have an abundance to live and share!

Anyway, on with our story:

J:  Dear Woman, I know you just met me, but I can tell that you want life, living water, freedom, the Holy Spirit.  This well water is just a temporal taste of the true life-giving water.  I want to give it to you.

W:  Even more startled and confused; this man is blunt!  I know where he’s going with this!  How presumptuous!  How preposterous!  Her defense mechanism kicks in – how do I upset a man?  Doubt him, question him, get his ego riled up to end this uncomfortable conversation.

Jesus, Patience Incarnate, is unruffled.

J : “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Look lady, I’m serious.  I want to give you life.  I would die for you.

W:  Okay, she thinks, He seems serious… I’ve heard promises from men before.  I don’t expect much, but I’ll go along.  “Sir, give me this water.”

(So, if you’re like me, I’ve been taking notes this whole time on how to evangelize, how to interact with sinners who don’t know and don’t much care about the gospel.  And at this point in a conversation, I would expect Jesus to go all ‘Emmaus Road’ on her, spin around and put on his Super Apologist cape, bringing out the New Testament and the Catechism, giving her a Scott Hahn CD or a Catholic Answers tract.  Nope.)

J:  “Go call your husband and come back.”


W:  “I do not have a husband.”

J:  You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’  For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.

Say wha-?

What a bold, risky, intrusive thing to say to someone. What if she had lied?  What if she had dumped that whole bucket of water on his head?  We live in a culture that would applaud this woman’s sexual ‘freedom’ and greatly dislikes anyone prying into or questioning the morality of our supposed ‘private’ affairs.

What’s interesting though… he didn’t actually make any statement that could be considered condemning.  He just stated the facts in a neutral, truthful way, and let her work it out for herself.  He doesn’t even seem interested in talking about her and her sins, He really just wants to talk about His Father…

For further discussion, has a good article on this Scripture passage.



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‘Tis a Log, ‘Tis a Spec

Friend! said I,
You’ve something in your eye!
‘Tis a log of great size
You’re so lucky that I’m wise.

‘Tis a spec, said my Lord.
Whatever do You mean?
For everyone can plainly see
‘Tis a log, and my help is free!

‘Tis a spec, He spoke again.
(That crazy guy, I’ll just explain),
My Lord, my Lord, ’tis obvious,
He’s not as holy as both of us!

That may be true, but it’s not for you
To be judging souls from your limited view.
Your sin’s a log, in your eye,
His sin’s a spec, by the by.

Continued our dear Rabbi.

First make your deeds righteous
And form properly your conscience.
Interpret actions favorably;
Lead with friendship and mercy.

Culpability is tricky business,
Focus on your role as witness
Hypocrisy or condemnation, be careful what you do;
For the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.


Further reading:
Judge Not? by Jim Blackburn
Matthew Chapter 7
Luke Chapter 6

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The Bad Luck Penny

“A penny for your thoughts?” You say.
A penny for my thoughts? Ha! Long overdue!
For ever since we met that day
I can’t get rid of You!

When we’re here, or there, or anywhere,
Things just go awry.
Trouble began to follow me
And I think I know why.

You took me underneath Your wing
and hushed my frightened tears,
So I could face with fragile courage
a whole new set of fears.

In the middle of the night
When nothing is going right,
There You are.

In the middle of the storm,
When worldly wasps are in full swarm,
There You are.

Living in this narcissus world
Where good is bad and bad is good
It’s unreal! And You so simply say,
“Peace; I am your food.”

If I proclaim Your Truth, I must,
then they will scorn and boo!
Ignorant, hypocrite, hater, bigot!
Quickly forgotten that they are too.

It seems you are a bad luck penny
That just won’t go away.
Trouble finds us, attacks us, binds us,
Yet by my side You insist to stay.

Your standards high, my sins too much
The devil’s in my head.
Preying upon Your prideful servant
Like a tasty spot of bread.

Perhaps if You just let me be
I’d be much better off, you see?
Take no offense, it’s You, not me.
Without You here, I can be free!

Satanic lies! I scream inside.
Be gone you rotten rebel child!
Heavy penny cross a target,
Lord make my love for Your love wild!

The Eucharist! The Eucharist!
Multiply my manna,
A penny loaf, a sacrifice,
As cheerful as I can-ah.

And then when at my very end
When facing Father, ’tis You and me;
Not a penny, but a friend
by my side eternally.

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Playful Parenting : Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

The last section in Chapter 5 in Playful Parenting is very important. Dr. Cohen discusses the good and natural consequence of successfully playing with children: tears!

He explains that sudden outbursts of emotion happen because the child has been holding onto a lot of feelings, and the giggling opens the door. What you have essentially done is made them feel safe with you, so they feel a freedom to be vulnerable and release their pain. This is healthy and good!

It is confusing for adults because often it is something small that triggers the intense emotions and we freak out and tend to overreact or reprimand. Dr. Cohen says however,

“If we can just sit with them while they are releasing these feelings, they will eventually emerge happier children… often all that is necessary is a brief pause to pay attention to that burst of feelings, then back to fun play – which becomes even more fun now that the child is no longer carrying that load of painful emotions.” (p89-91)

I echo the author when he asks, “Is there enough giggling going on in your house?”

Chapter 6 is an excellent chapter as well: “Learn to Roughhouse,” which covers a range of sub-topics of physical play.

Why do children wrestle/roughhouse?
– to test their physical strength
– to have fun
– to control their aggression, practice restraint

Why wrestle with parents?
– we can help them deal with fears, anger, etc
– we won’t call them names if they cry or give up
– we will stop and rest
– we can help them explore their physical strength
– we can help them develop confidence

How do we wrestle?
– try to pin each other
– try to get past each other
– they try to knock you down
– they try to get away from you holding them
– they try to get you somewhere

KEY INGREDIENT, dependent upon the child and the moment:
– you pretend to be incompetent, OR
– you match your strength to theirs

Basic Rules
– Safety
– Connection
– Sense of Power – increase theirs
– Emotional Hurts – help them play through
– Physical Hurts – stop
– Resistance – just the right amount
– Let Them Win
– No Tickling
– Your Feelings – set them aside

When children want to engage in War Play – exploring ideas of aggression, conflicts, alliances, strategies, weapons, violence – adults have the task of keeping it light-hearted and balanced, and including ideas of nurturing and camaraderie.

Self-Control Games
– Simon Says
– Red Light, Green Light
– Imitate/Exaggerate aggressive behavior in a silly way
– Rhythmic movement fast, slow, left, right
– Singing fast, slow, loud, soft
– Sort by shape, color, size, switch hands
– Obstacle Courses
– Treasure hunts
– Hand-clap games
– Jumping Rope

Benefits to Physical Play
– Child learns how to calm down
– Child learns to pay attention
– Child learns to plan, organize, prepare, persist

Basically, “take a real situation that is hard for them, label it as play, and let children practice gaining control over their impulses.” (p111)

So far, I’ve given a fairly in-depth look at Dr. Cohen’s book. For the second half of the book, I will provide more of a synopsis of concepts. I strongly encourage you to read it and begin applying Playful Parenting techniques in your household.

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