Photini, the Woman at the Well
Alone you carry your water jar to Jacob’s well
No neighbor comes at noon in desert heat
What deters you from joining other women?
Fetching water you meet a dusty thirsty rabbi
Parched with no vessel he says “Give me a drink,”
You question how a rabbi could ask you for water
Jews have no dealings with Samaritan outcasts like you
Who marry non-Jews and worship at Mt. Gerezim.
He remains seated and looks up to you standing
You expect a rabbi to rise and talk down to you
He says your water will slake thirst for a moment
Offers you water to quench thirst for a lifetime
Baffled you ask is he greater than father Jacob
He answers “Bring your husband back for living water,”
You confess you are not married to your partner
A serious sin.
He knows you’re unmarried and you’ve had five husbands
His astonishing respect prompts your grateful smile
Esteem replaces shame and you stand taller
He says worshiping in Jerusalem is not what matters
Worshiping the Father in spirit and truth is all
You reply the Messiah is coming to tell all things
“I am He” he replies “the one who is speaking to you,”
He speaks with authority and knows all about you.
His disciples marvel that Jesus speaks to you
They see a lowly woman, worse a Samaritan
Yet Jesus first reveals Himself to you
He discloses his divinity to the outcast of outcasts
Free from judgment He welcomes all into His tent
He raises you by speaking with you from below
He offers you and your partner living water
He tells you truth: He is the bearer of eternal life.
You rush home to Sychar to spread the word
A rabbi at the well knows your history without asking
No longer ashamed you lead your neighbors to Jesus
In two days with Him they become enlightened too
You convert your five sisters and both sons to the Way
Become a disciple like one of the twelve
Who baptize you Photoni “the enlightened one”
You convert multitudes in Carthage and Rome.
Your rising crowd of followers alarms Emperor Nero
The half-mad ruler orders you and your family arrested
Appearing without capture you surprise the cruel monarch
Befuddled he asks what brought you to his court
“I’ve come to teach you to believe in Jesus Christ,”
“Are you prepared to die for the Nazarene?” he threatens
“For the love of Him I’ll gladly give my life,”
He orders your knuckles beaten with iron rods for three hours.
“No matter what anyone does to me I’m not afraid,”
He offers riches to persuade you to renounce your faith
A golden table covered with gold coins jewels and dresses
Failing, he sends his daughter, Domnina, to convince you
Instead you convert her and baptize her Anthousa
She gives the gold coins jewels and dresses to the poor
Enraged Nero has your five sisters and two sons beheaded
Has you brought before him to ask if you now relent.
You laugh. “Oh stupid man do you think me so deluded
I would renounce my Lord Christ to idols as blind as you?”
His guards cast you into a deep dry well head down
Having drunk the living water you enter life eternal
We revere the passion of our courageous sister
The Eastern Orthodox Church canonizes Saint Photini
Your transformation inspires all who hear your story
Showing outcasts how to recast ourselves as saints.
©Dr. Doug Welpton