ROMANS 8:13 May the God of hope fill you with
all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by
the power of the Holy Spirit. ♥


The sun was prickly hot that day.
My feet stirred up sand that clung to my ankles 
and stuck to the back of my throat
His voice still pounded in my head with each step.
“You had best mind yourself, woman. You will be out on your tail 
with nowhere to go if you continue to bother me with your selfishness.
Keep to what you know, Mara, and we will get just along fine.”

Then he pushed me against the wall.
I squeezed my eyes shut and gritted my teeth to block out the inevitable,
my mind searching for a place to hide.  
Somewhere quiet
a place apart where I could breathe.

He had gambled and lost a bet so we would be without money 
again for the week.
If only he would keep his arrogance in check,
perhaps we could move out of the cramped one room stable 
I called home.
He was angry because I asked how we would buy food.
My arm and soul throbbed with the memory of it all.

It was always the same.
My life was filled with dreams that had gone wrong.
Each promise had dissolved and sat bitter in my mouth.
Every time I resolved to make a better life my options would betray me.

It was a matter of choice really and I continually made the wrong ones.
But a woman like me didn’t have many choices.
Once you pick a direction it’s a slow glide from one bad situation 
to the next. 

At the beginning of my widowhood I was shown such kindness.
Offers to help were many.
in my mourning I began wondering down dark alleys and found people
even more lost than I.
In the company of people who had long ago lost hope,
I stopped hoping as well.
The light and warmth of any security faded.
Walking this path each day reminds me of the darkness 
in which I merely existed.

But that day while on my way to get water,
I looked up and noticed a figure sitting by the well.
It was a man.
A Jew judging by the way he was dressed.

Perhaps I could get away unnoticed.
This man wouldn’t speak to me.
I could fill the jar and be on my way.

Even if it had been a woman   
 I could have gotten away without a word.
But there would be a sneer or an indirect comment.
Something designed to break me down
put me in my place.

That’s why I came to the well at midday when the sun was at its hottest.
The other women would be cool in their homes tending 
obedient children
and preparing for the return of loving husbands.
That world was far from my reality.

So I made a wide circle to approach from the opposite side.
While I filled my jar     
I sensed that he was looking right at me.
I wondered why this man was in our town.
The distain the Jews had for my people was intense.
We were called half breeds and I was at the bottom of the pile.

Slowly I snuck a sideway glance.
He was looking right at me with       
the softest eyes I   had   ever   seen.
The moment froze while I felt those eyes penetrate 
right through my heart
Deep into my soul where no one had ever been.
There was kindness in those eyes.

I quickly looked away and finished filling the jar.
The last thing I needed in my life was another man.
No matter his gentle eyes, they were all the same.
In the end there would be heartache and emptiness.

But His voice as he spoke was kind     
and    somehow     
I couldn’t resist.

He asked me to bring Him a drink of water.
I said, “Why are you asking me, a Samaritan woman for water.”
He said that I didn't know who I was speaking to.
He said that he had "living water" to give.
He said that it was from God.

Well He sounded a little too full of himself   
I asked Him if He was greater than our father Jacob 
who dug the well.

This man promised that He had water
that would quench my thirst once and for all
and that I would never be thirsty again.
Not only that but this water would make a well inside of me
that would overflow forever!

When He spoke next I knew He must be a prophet.
He told me about my life but    
with such patience and grace    
that all I felt was relief.
And those eyes.
Was that love I saw?

I thought, “No Mara, don’t go there. 
That’s where you get in trouble.”

But what He offered was different.
It wasn’t based on what I was but     
on who He was.
The emptiness I felt couldn't be satisfied 
with what I was choosing.

As I listened to Him     
I realized that He knew me better than I knew myself.
He somehow knew the deep down hidden pain that 
I thought I’d masked so well. 
There was no hiding from the ugliness I had been
His tenderness accepted me just where I was.          

Still He was a Jew and they worship differently than we Samaritans.
And I told Him that.
He told me that salvation is for the Jews but      
a day was coming when God would be looking for those 
who worship   
in  spirit      
and truth.

He said that it wasn’t about location or lineage but about my spirit
Because God is Spirit.

I told Him that the Messiah was coming
and when He came He would tell us the truth and make it all clear.

Then He said “I who speaks to you AM He.” 

I could hardly believe what He was saying.
He was the Messiah,         
the promised one?

My mind fought against what my heart was beginning to realize.
All of a sudden it made sense.

It was like somewhere a door had been opened and 
bright light was shining through.
My darkness was overtaken by  
a fluttering   hope.

The overwhelming peace in not having to pretend was incredible.
I had never felt so loved.
Knowing the ugliness of my past and my present
didn't seem to matter to Him.

My future began in that very moment.
I felt my heart weep with joy that I could not contain.
Tears made straight paths down my dusty face.

I left my jars and ran home to tell anyone who would listen that
Messiah knew all about me and loved me anyway!

Ever since that day, I’ve felt bathed in the warmth of mercy 
and grace.
I no longer live under religious rules and rituals,
I live in a spiritual relationship through the Word of truth.

Who can foresee the things that will change our lives?
Perhaps seeing them ahead of time would make 
the final change of heart less glorious.
Living without hope at the end of a rope makes the saving grace
all the more sweet.

I changed that day in ways that will forever mystify me.
Secret places and dark corners of fear where swept clean. 
That woman who went daily in shame to the well,
thirsty and worn
now lives face upturned
drenched daily with the quenching water
from His heart.

When the Spirit of God looks down,
He now sees  my spirit looking back
with overflowing hope splashing wherever I go!

From John  4:1-30 

2018 © Charlene M Campanella  


I got to hang out with a group of amazing women last week. Between grilled veggies, Falafel, and laughter we met each other not just in body but in heart. There were no walls only a genuine desire to reach deep into our souls and join hands.

This was not a therapy group.
There was no script to follow.
There was no pledge to take.

We met in a quiet clean place belonging to a local artist. Nature’s beauty was displayed anew everywhere in the material she reclaimed and repurposed. Old bark and limbs were sculpted to become useful vehicles of light and beauty. That which had laid dormant and discarded now led the way along the path to wholeness. Just like our reclaimed lives when nurtured past those things that caused us to stumble.

This was a place to put down and pick up.
A place to deny and rejoice.
A place to hurt and heal.
A place to share the bitter and the sweet.
It was a place to breathe.

I have a dear friend who is a physiatrist and a mighty woman of God. She has taught me much over the course of our six year friendship.  One thing in particular is the vital necessity to acknowledge pain before moving on to healing. I have witnessed this in her first response to an aching heart. She listens without interrupting, empathizes without minimizing, acknowledges without judging. She confirms that the hurt can be overwhelming and paralyzing. She grieves alongside them. She straightens out crocked thinking. She gives space to feel.

Before release and restoration there must be healing. The need to absorb the balm of peace and time in the company of those with whom we feel safe is vital. Sometimes we need gentle hands to peel our stiff aching fingers from around that suitcase of pain and confusion we’ve been carrying around. It needs to be opened and exposed and detoxified. This happens best in the incubator of love and acceptance.

We need to create this space for each other.
That evening was the first step.
It won’t be the last.

This was the atmosphere we soaked in. It was as if we all had entered a sanctuary that promised we would be known, accepted and loved back to wholeness. We all have a story that blooms with the potential to escort another along that path to freedom. We just need to be true to each other. To be real and bruised and lovely and messy and wet from tears and bright with hope.

I felt the Spirit of God hovering above our nest. And He was smiling. His heart was full with the knowledge that His daughters were stepping out in faith and peace. Faith that He would use our pain for good and not for the evil that was planned.  Peace that would pull us further still to the higher place of freedom. We had realized the truth. We picked up the prize and headed for the goal.

That night was an evening where hope was passed from one brave heart to another. There was the promise that this was not the end of our journey together.  This random evening that started in the hearts of a few determined warrior women will happen again.
It must happen again.
And again.
And again.
Until the very last one of us can open her eyes wide in the sunshine without shame or fear or anger and drink in deep the hope that springs from sharing life together.

2018 © Charlene M Campanella