Who am I? What does it mean to be a man, or a woman? Which, if any of the cultural "must be"s "must have"s, "must do"s should I adopt as my own? What does it mean to be a man or woman of God? How does my church define or embellish my identity?
Jesus was the most culturally radical person of his time. He turned the parameters of status upside down. Weakness became strength, poverty became wealth, success became, at times, ignomany. He challenged, touched, encouraged, healed, transformed. His heart was stirred to compassion, then, as now, by the poor, weak, lonely, disabled and marginalised.
My favourite story in the entire Bible is found in John's gospel, chapter 4. Interestingly, the story of the woman at the well is also a favorite of many men. I return to this story again and again, drawing at different times fresh insight. It is a story of abject loneliness, rejection, encounter, beauty, subtle wit, intelligence, hunger, transformation, commission. I think if I had only read that one story in the Bible, I would be a Christian. Such is the power of the Word.
That unnamed woman has journeyed with me through many years and been the inspiration of a few poems which I'd like to share :