She always comes to the well in the middle of the day. It’s the hottest time, of course, with the sun bearing down on all things great and small. But she’s not the most popular woman in town, to say the least. She used to come in the morning, when the sun hovers over the horizon and the night’s coolness still lingers. But that’s when everyone else comes, too, and that never goes well for her. They never speak to her, only about her, though occasionally they speak AT her.
“There’s that woman again.”
“Wonder who she was with last night.”
“I can’t believe she has the nerve to come to this well.”
She is shunned in no uncertain terms. The looks they once hurled at her from across the town square made it clear she would likely not find any friends there. So has she stopped trying.
Now she comes in the middle of the day because it feels less lonely when there’s nobody around. And the silence isn’t so loud.
It’s true she hasn’t lived the most chaste life. But sometimes you make a mistake, and you know it’s a mistake, but it leads to another mistake, and then you just don’t know how to climb out of that pit, you know? And nobody seemed willing to help her then — or even to talk to her — so she just gave up.
She’d always wanted what everybody else has: a husband who sticks around and cares for their children. But her life didn’t go the way she had pictured; it just went off the rails. And because of that, now nobody wants to be around her long enough to hear her story and help her write a new one.
She doesn’t think much of it anymore. She just does what she needs to do and lets bygones be bygones.
It’s noon. She arrives at the well with her buckets to get water for the rest of the day. But there’s a man sitting there. A Jewish man. Which is weird, because this is Samaria, and Jews and Samaritans don’t mix. Jewish people think Samaritans are, well, let’s just say they don’t like Samaritans. And Samaritans don’t really like Jews because the Jews think they’re better than the Samaritans. It’s just a big recipe for disaster.
She walks quietly around Him with her head down, making sure not to look at Him. She’s a Samaritan woman, and He’s a Jewish man. Any kind of social interaction would be the faux pas of the century. Add that on top of her already — shall we say — tarnished lifestyle, she’ll never get another friend for as long as she lives. Not in Samaria or Jerusalem or anywhere. She’ll have to hightail it to Egypt if she wants to start a whole new life. That wouldn’t be all bad, she thinks.
But then, He says something to her.