We're at the start of a long story.
The coronavirus pandemic will disrupt life for much longer than anyone wants,
which is to say, more than a few hours.
People will die and families will grieve, many with no one around them.
Inconveniences and annoyances will mount, and more significantly, so will
dangers for those on the edges of society and stability.
The economic impact and implications will radiate for years.
The logistical and emotional and spiritual complications are exponential.
There is so much more to this new reality than any of us can wrap our minds around yet.
For now, we suspend life as we assume it and watch and pray and worry and hope
and care for one another from an awkward distance and do our best.
Heeding the advice of the experts, we are learning to practice social distancing.
But we still need basics, like water.
Which is why the social distancing professional goes to the well at noon.
The Samaritan woman has more ex-husbands than friends.
It's a long story.
She goes to the well at noon to avoid the morning crowd, and all the gossip and judgment
that comes with it.
She waits for the heat of the day, when no one else wants to be out.
She wouldn't go at all, but she still needs basics, like water, so she waits till 3am
to go to the grocery store.
Hopefully, no one else will be there.
She has, over time, mastered the daily practice of social distancing in order to
When and where no one else shows up, God does.
To her astonishment, there is another customer at her watering hole, a single
This is the start of a long story.
Wells are where the family of Jacob meet their spouses.
But Jews practice extreme social distancing from Samaritans – most don't even enter the
territory, much less sit down at a well.
They will get infected; they will become, physically and spiritually, "unclean."
They will not be able to worship God; they will have to self quarantine and purify
themselves through a long process for an extended period of time.
So what is this single Jewish man doing, asking this Samaritan woman for a drink when
both of them are alone?
(His disciples had gone into town to buy toilet paper.)
It's highly unusual, weird, suspicious, even scandalous.
It's painfully, wonderfully awkward.
And it's a long story.
We have the advantage, and also the disadvantage, of knowing how it ends.
Those of us at the front end of this long coronavirus story have no assurances
about how it will all turn out.
We hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and push forward the best we can.
So we can sympathize with this Samaritan woman doing the same thing.