This lovely passage brings in two themes that have been deep in my spiritual adventure: equality and spiritual love. And to keep a more gay specific line two directions to go in come to mind.
Firstly Jesus’s relationship with outsiders, non Jews, and in this case a woman too, is that of equality for all whoever they are. He asks to have water from her bucket something culturally taboo apparently.
The gay analogy to this story would be to have the straight world treat my gay openness with real ease, but that is still not there, certainly not in the church clearly with its intolerance to sex and gay love. How many people would be comfortable with me staring lovingly into another mans eyes, and kissing him deeply as a lover. I mean really comfortable, not just tolerating, and make the same remarks they might between a man and woman, lovely couple, so natural, beautiful etc. etc. What I find straight people saying is “I don’t know why these gays need to do this in public?” Expressions of love in public are actually beautiful, and help us all connect to our heart centres if we are indeed open to that. It took me a while to work through my feelings seeing mixed race couples kissing when I was young and disabled people. Now it makes my heart melt.
That Jesus needs something from someone with a different perspective, i.e. water in the story, tells us we all have something to be gained from people who are different whoever they are.
The second element that appeals to the gay man in me is the theme of water, as either something material, essential to life, or as a metaphor for more sustaining spiritual energy , that for me is Divine love. Although this doesn’t have to be about sexual love, because the church has problems with expressions of free sexual love, I will focus on the sexual side of Divine love. It is the problem with sexual love that the church has is why it has so much problem with LGBT.
Remember that my experience of deeper sexual spiritual love has been through Tantra. And you might say so why is it relevant to Christianity? Well only because in these deep Tantric mystical experiences I encountered Christ, and then subsequently in my life in a number of different ways. It is this experience that informs the way I think about spirituality, Christ and Christianity. What was so shocking was that the beautiful Christian values were so clear to me in these encounters, it was like the essence that explained everything was there. It all made perfect sense, no contradictions. Sex and sexuality was not an issue in these encounters and love was big, because it is attaining a state of knowing unconditional love continuously which informs how you are.
Not that I have experienced that depth of knowing continuously. But I find great frustration that people, who spend a lot of time in church related matters, seem to struggle with understanding Christ and, relative to my insightful experience, get it wrong an awful lot of the time. I tried to describe my experiences in a local Christian study group last night but I don’t find I get a feeling that we see things in the same way. The vicar responded talking about how we feel emotion. But this needs to be carefully considered, my emotions are in my mind fear, jealousy, greed, but actually heart felt emotions of spirit feel physically in the heart and dispel fear and other emotions of the mind. It is the place of love, bliss and joy. Being heart centred as a spiritual state is core to my mystical experiences, I think what is meant by Lydia being heart-centred. It is like tapping into a deeper truth, like tapping an underground river, a Divine river, which becomes the spirit within. When I am heart centred with this flow is when I am most likely to experience Christ in a tangible way.
For me water is a metaphor to deep spirituality and unconditional love in this story. And in using it I draw the distinction between sex without deeper spiritual love and sexual love that is deeply spiritual that is one aspect of unconditional love. I refer to this as it is the sexual which is so much the issue for gay men and church, rather than unconditional love per se that might apply also to where sexual love does not. Spiritual sexual love is being aware of being connected to God and not the world of just human connection, power, and physical responses. The first is not sin the second, as it is not awareness of spiritual connection, sin. Of course sin for me just means disconnected from God in any of the manifestations the normal state for most people most of the time with their preoccupations with the addictions of the sensory world. And what you do does not really indicate well whether or not you are connected and how deeply and clearly.
Image by Lance