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Gratitude and Grace
Gratitude and Grace

A Spring within Us

Monday, November 6, 2023

Richard Rohr understands the gospel story of the woman at the well as a story about God’s ever-flowing grace toward us:

In the Christian Scriptures, we read about Jesus encouraging a Samaritan woman to draw water from the public well and serve it to him (John 4:7). At this ancient well the expected roles are reversed. A mutual vulnerability is revealed as Jesus invites the woman to be both the receiver and also the “source” and giver of the gift of living water. In an almost Trinitarian kind of flow, Jesus describes this transfer as a “water that I shall give which will be a spring of water within you—welling up unto infinite life” (John 4:14).

In other words, the ancient spiritual well is fully transferred to the individual person; it is now an inside job and has a “welling-up effect,” which is exactly the image that sixteenth-century Spanish mystics Francisco de Osuna, Teresa of Ávila, and John of the Cross loved so much. This theme is also repeated when Jesus says that “from the heart shall flow streams of living water” (John 7:38). [1]

Jesus’ most wonderful metaphor for this inner experience of grace is “a spring within you.” This spring is not outside us, it’s within us, and it’s bubbling up unto eternal life. Spiritual knowing and spiritual cognition are always really re-cognition. It’s the realization that what we already know is true at some deep level. We’ve had an intuition or a suspicion that we might just be a beloved child of God, but we often think that it’s too good to imagine. Heaven is already given, and the gift is already handed over. To the woman at the well, Jesus says very directly, “If you but knew the gift of God … you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Jesus is telling her and us that we already have the gift of God! The Spirit has been poured into our hearts at the moment of our creation. We are already children of God. The water is bubbling up within us but we often don’t dare believe it.

Such good news is just too good, too impossible, too distant. We say, “Lord, I am not worthy.” Of course we’re not worthy, but the good news is that worthiness is not even the issue. Who among us is worthy? Am I worthy? Is the bishop worthy? Are the priests worthy? Are the Franciscans worthy? I don’t think so. We’re all just varying degrees of fallible and unworthy, but when we surrender to that reality/identity/knowing, the fountain of grace begins to flow. We stop seeking our own worthiness and we begin to know the gift of God. We begin to realize that it’s all gift, and it’s all free, and we already have it, and all we can do is learn to enjoy it, and that changes everything. [2]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 16.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Woman at the Well,” homily, March 23, 2014, MP3 audio.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Loïs Mailou Jones, Textile Design for Cretonne (detail), 1928, watercolor on paper, Smithsonian. Loïs Mailou Jones, Eglise Saint Joseph (detail), 1954, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Red Abstraction (detail), 1959, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Click here to enlarge image.

This street scene reminds us of the ordinary, loud, multi-colored, sun and shade gift of life.

Story from Our Community:  

Our world needs our spirits, gifts, love, and gratitude for life and creation. It daunts me, though. I am reminded God is with the broken. Every time I ‘shrink’ I am held and embraced in this gentle prayer. —Kathleen S.

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