True Love, the Oil Spill and Well Water
As millions of gallons of oil continue to decimate the Gulf region, I am awestruck by the mystery of tapping into something that never seems to run out. If the oil could be tamed (too late), it would be like the elusive “money tree” we all wish we could grow. (Even though we’d know the effects that would have on inflation – but we wouldn’t care. Come on, it’s a money tree!)
It is hard for me to grasp the power of wells and of tapping into something so valuable. But I am spoiled and unimaginative: most of the world understands perfectly and has for thousands of years.
When Isaac wanted to find his true love, his men went to the well. Whoever offered water was the one. Rebekah reached into the well bucket and filled a pitcher for the men and the camels. Camels can drink 20 gallons of water. She might have been watering those poor guys all evening. And so Rebekah became my ancestor.
The used up Samaritan woman found her true love at the well, too. She’d had six husbands and not-really-husbands. She was cheaper than a hooker, in everyone else’s eyes. At the well she begged, “Sir, give me this eternal, drought-defying water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here.”
God gave the assaulted slave Hagar a well in the desert to feed herself and her son. God has mercy on the trafficked and distraught.
Wells have always been frequented by women. If wells are where God chose to promise love and provision, he must have known that most of the women he promised it to were unloved and found their provision only through complete obedience to their husbands.
There are many problems with wells. They are unsafe for strangers, cause strife in families, can be overtaken by invading armies or simple no-good doers.
Sometimes they sit covered for long stretches, so as not to let the sand in to destroy them. Historically when wells dried up, they became known as pits. St. Peter refers to these pits as a metaphor for the hypocrites. Hypocrites are wells without water. Hypocrites are truly the pits.
In Meribah, during the Israelite Exodus, when the little children and huge camels were all hungry and thirsty, everyone whined and moped around. Moses took his staff and said, “Here, you dang rebels,” and out of the rock gushed water like an oil spill: never-ending, entirely satisfying water for the grumbling wretches.
So history understands the power of wells that never dry up. Women who drag giant pots on their heads all day for the privilege of getting just a few gallons, they can understand, too. The slaves, the rejects and the people with anger issues can all get it. The 11 dead in the Gulf and even the poor little fishies probably know now the power of something entirely unquenchable.
In fact, the only ones who never seem to get it are the people too rich to have to go to the well in the first place.