I went to The Well today. The funny thing is I wasn’t even sure why I went. Really, I feel like I have been walking around in a haze and on some level not exactly knowing it. Kind of like I have been numb and blind and just feeling my way around in the darkness. After my visit to The Well, it was as if the fog had been lifted and dawning came over me that I found myself at The Well because my cup had become empty and I ever so desperately needed to have it refilled.
With this thought, I was reminded of a song that I grew up with in church choir entitled Fill My Cup, Lord. I always loved this song and still do. Just singing it in someway filled my cup. The first verse is my favorite. “Like the woman at the well I was seeking for things that could not satisfy and then I heard my Savior speaking “Draw from my well that never shall run dry”. Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord…come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
I forget that it is not the earthly things that last or endure. The things of the flesh that man strives for, even kills for, are not what feeds the soul. They will, in the end leave one empty and unfulfilled, unless a real investment is made in the things that do indeed feed the soul and fill one up.
The amazing thing is that I didn’t ask Him to do this, He just did it. He knew that I have been floundering and directed me to The Well knowing that I would receive what I needed. I did need to heed his messages and take action of course and I found myself rewarded with Him filling my cup once again. How fantastic is that?
At The Well on this particular day a story was being shared. A well-known story. One that never had really any significant meaning to me. It was the story of Hansel and Gretel. As a child the only meaning I took from it was how cruel it was of parents to lead their children out into the woods and abandon them there. And to know in my heart of hearts that they should not be eating of the candy that they found on the house in the woods. This reeked of evil about to happen and I so much wanted to shout at them, run, run as fast as you can and never come back. In the end of course, they triumph over evil and return home with their riches.
However, on this particular day I was left with a whole new perspective that has continued to stick with me. One, it is a story of personal growth and independence. The children start out as being dependent on their parents. But as the story goes this changes. The first time they are led out to the woods they manage to find their way back because they dropped stones to show the way. This perhaps was just a practicing of independence. Not quite ready to be independent. Maybe a trial run. And then the second time, bread crumbs are dropped and these are quickly snatched up by the creatures of the forest and they have no way of finding their way back and returning to their home. This is a forced independence. One that they know must happen.
I am reminded of my own journey into independence when I started college. I purposely chose a college that was far enough away from my hometown that I would not be able to return easily as I knew that I was very attached to my family and to break that tie and come to my own independence would be a difficult one. My plan worked and I remained with my wings out stretched.
The greatest image I have is of two children searching for these bread crumbs, desperately wanting to find the way they came but knowing they cannot and therefore, they must forge a new path. One that is unknown to them. This takes courage. I know, for I very much feel like a child who is desperately looking for the bread crumbs to lead me down the path I came from. This is familiar, this is what I know, this is what is comfortable. However, the bread crumbs are gone, destroyed, eaten, gobbled up by the past that no longer serves. Here I stand in the middle of the deep dark forest, afraid and with big eyes and a quivering breath wondering what it is I am to do. Choose a new path. Forge a new path. This is a daunting thought. I am filled with fear, I realize this. I know it in every fiber of my being. What can I do? Exhale and with each exhale empty myself of this fear that has filled me and go to my Lord and ask Him to fill me with His Spirit, His hope, love and grace.
Somehow, in this filling I know I will be able to take a step on this unknown path of the forest floor. It may not be gigantic. It is a step nonetheless. I will keep taking steps no matter how big or little and one day I will look back and find this beautiful enormous path that I have traveled. Even on that day, I know there will be no going back, there will be other paths and adventures to forge. I will thank my God for the blessing of this journey and the richness that surrounds me. My life is not one of lack but of possibilities which makes me very rich indeed.
The other part of the story that stuck with me is when Hansel and Gretel need to find a way across the lake. They see a swan that will ferry them across. Hansel wants Gretel to ride across with him but Gretel tells him no that this is part of the journey that must be traveled alone. The storyteller indicated that this was because during certain parts of our journey no one can travel with us or cheer us on. This part of the journey we travel alone for this is where we grow and transform.
At this moment, this particular day I feel the weight of being very much alone. I feel like I am experiencing something that no one truly understands. They do not know the magnitude of my feelings. The great sorrow and fear that has filled me. I feel very much like I did on the day that I received the news that the baby I was carrying did not have a heartbeat and would not be delivered into this world as a happy precious gift. I remember driving with tears streaming down my face. I saw all the people walking by, driving by with their own concerns, without any knowledge of the loss that suffocated me. I felt alone and isolated thinking that these people could not be bothered with my pain. Did not want to be bothered with it and yes in many ways I was angry for this. I was angry because they went about their lives without skipping a beat, not knowing. Continuing to live and experience their perfect little lives.
What if we did know the pain of those around us? Really felt it. Then what? Would our feeling this pain be able to help them shoulder it? Or is it like the story and now is not the time. For growth and transformation to occur we and we alone shoulder the pain and loss that ultimately chisels its way around us and through us and transforms us. I have found myself wishing sometimes that we humans took lessons from geese. They fly in a V formation with the strong flier in the front and they break the force of the wind for the other geese flying in formation so it is not as hard for them to fly. And when the lead goose grows tired another bird takes its place allowing it to rest. Wouldn’t that be great? When we grew weary of making our way, someone, a trusted friend maybe even more treasured a complete stranger would come and take over and give us rest. Would it be better? Would it be greater?
I’m not sure. Maybe this would rob us of golden transformation and growth and where would we find ourselves? Would we be lost in the forest frozen by fear not knowing where to go? As much as I feel alone, I know that moments in time are transforming. I know that He fills me up and gives me strength. I will give myself a moment’s pause to feel the fear that fills me, all the pain and sorrow that has come my way. I put it on and I am filled with this as well and I cry. I sob. Tears fall without any rhyme or reason. I become immobilized. I cannot move from the spot where I have placed myself. I know that I should. My brain says its okay just move. My body does not respond. I cannot will it to respond. I do not have the strength. Every muscle limb feels excruciatingly heavy. So I remain. And even when I think I am spent another wave of tears brim to the surface and fall again. Today is an endless fount of tears. I feel them. I am awash in the ocean of these tears. My eyes are burning, red and swollen and I am more exhausted than I believe I have ever been.
Duty calls to me and only then do I rouse myself to move. Not easy or welcome but I finally manage to respond, to get my body and my brain to function together. It is oddly strange. Feeling as if no one sees you and you are just watching like a movie that passes in front of you. Or maybe, it is like being invisible and no one hears or sees you with action taking place all around you. Take your pick. The feeling is one of being detached.
In this rousing, I know that God calls to me. He has been telling me all day that He will take care of me. That I need to have faith and not worry. I didn’t want to listen. Or maybe I just needed to go through this so that I could listen or really believe what He was telling me. Like I told a friend. It is one thing to say you have faith, it is quite another to actually live it. One is words and another is actually living and breathing it. As I take this in, I ask to be filled up once more from the well that shall never run dry. I take comfort in this and solace in the fact that God led me to The Well. He will lead me to a new path. I need only have faith that He will and keep asking Him to fill me up. Go to The Well. You just might be sustained by what you find there.