How do you know you have a drinking problem? I asked. “Listen honey”, she replied, “When you get angry at the olive for all the room it takes up in your glass you have a problem.” It would take a few years for me to recognize I had a problem.
We all have our problems, our issues, our addictions, our failures, our short-comings – the list is endless. The question is what does it do to us? Do we acknowledge it and make healthier choices or do we run away in shame internalizing that we are somehow damaged goods?
Jesus asks a woman for a drink of water and a conversation ensues. She has bought the story that as a foreigner and a woman she is of no value. In fact, she comes to the well at midday – a time in which she knows few, if any, would be at the well. Yet Jesus continues the conversation. He knows her story but asks for her help, a simple gesture really – a drink of water for his thirst in the midday sun. She wants to tell others about him, in part, because he is kind and accepts her for who she is.
How often do we see a student who is shame filled? You know the ones who seldom offer an answer, who try to disappear. It happens to us, too. De La Salle wrote to his brothers and had them write to him monthly. Lots of letters over time. We have a few. In one dated November 18, 1707, he writes to a Brother Mathias who is struggling, “ Who has been telling you that God does not want you to be doing what you are presently doing? You are content, you are at peace, you are undisturbed, when you are supported by someone. I am well aware, my very dear Brother, that you need such support, and that once you have it, you will do well.” Sound pedagogy if you ask me.
Jesus had to stop to see the woman and know her heart. We, too, are invited to remember to slow down, truly see, and touch hearts.