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2. From Estrangement to Fullness


Estrangement of the Samaritan Woman 



The Samaritan woman is almost completely closed, heavily protected and exerting great energy to hold together the basic residue of her integrity. Her stance is self-protective and defensive. Constrained and entangled, she lives on the restrictive rim of her existence. Through her wounding and choices, her living space has contracted; her life-giving soul faculties are experiencing neglect; she has become estranged and alienated from her inner-self, from many people in her community and also from her God

Self -protected and defensive



A muffled cry

If we move our position closer to the gentle and humble heart of Jesus, we encounter her wounded and fragile heart. Beneath the many layers of protection is a cry for someone to come alongside to save her from her oppressive circumstances, to save her from herself, to save her from always needing to run away.  


Muffled cry for something more


A trickle of grace

Patiently and gently, Jesus loves his way through the many external and internal barriers that for so long have bound and entangled this woman’s heart, loosening the soil at the base of these barriers.[1] As she eventually lifts her eyes to encounter his, she is able to acknowledge her inner thirst for the One whom she had hardly dared to believe would come.

Grace gently releasing from entanglement

A dance with resistance

The trickles of grace gently penetrate the cracks that open up in her thin protective covering and become a tiny spring deep down inside her, washing over her and transforming the wounded parts of her inner being. Jesus lovingly dances with her resistance, drawing the woman to the site of her wounding, her place of pain. “Go, call your husband, and come back.”[2]

Dance with resistance. 

Acknowledging the wound of the soul

This could seem a jolt in the conversation, until we notice that Jesus holds this place of wounding, pain and shame tenderly, within cupped hands: one hand is grace, the other is truth. Able to hold her contradictions, along with the frayed and fragmented parts of her person, in his unified self, he asks her to be truthful until the point of healing is reached. To receive the “gift of God”—the living water of the Spirit –an inner spring of water welling up to eternal life – it may be necessary to reconnect her to her soul; to ground her in the reality of her own lived experience; a movement through estrangement to God’s embrace.

From estrangement to embrace

Coming to life

Though the woman still stands by the well, she is drawn deeper towards her inner well, one that has long held the life-giving faculties, energies and desires of her soul, all of which have been named and evoked within her by the thirsty traveller. We witness her soul coming to life as she exclaims to others: ‘Come, see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?’[3] The worship of God in spirit and in truth is embodied by the one who lives out the change he seeks.[4]


Enlivens the faculties and deep desires of her soul.


Drawn into fullness

We have also gained experience in glimpsing such flows of love and movements of transformation through, in our last chapter, using a hermeneutic—reflective—cycle. There have been the movements through estrangement—surrender—catch—in the context of this loving and redeeming embrace that ever draws us to our fullness. We now bring these growing insights to notice more of the transformation that occurs within the relational embrace that Jesus opens for the Samaritan woman. 






Dancing with resistance

The six movements of this reflective cycle, along with the previous commentary, reveal to us, as companions being formed in the way of Jesus, his profound and masterful way of engaging with resistance in order to evoke and enliven greater life. Jesus is willing to take the Samaritan woman to her place of deep wounding; to areas of significant estrangement that lurk beneath the protective covering of her resistance. Our resistance—our pulling away into estrangement—can be the point at which he engages us (as in towards and away movements of a dance). Within the relational embrace he extends there is no clash, no inkling of self-protection, even when the woman is defensive and rude. Instead, there is spaciousness and a capacity to discern a heavily muffled heart cry. In Jesus, we encounter a whole person; a person who has come into the fullness of his true identity—the full and true identity only found in-God. 




This encounter offers a wonderful expression of how our “soul life” can be transformed, raised-up and re-ignited as we come into communion with the greater life and light of Jesus. This occurs when we bring our whole person—giftedness and wounding, joys and sorrows—into his relational embrace. With the golden cord of his spirit, Jesus can reach to the depths of our being, gather together our dissipated and frayed faculties, energies and desires, along with our deepest yearning and latent generosity, and draw us towards a life of adoration and service—a life in which we move in the direction of wholeness and holiness to become more truly and fully who we are created to be.[5]

We might change the metaphor. Jesus, as our guide-companion, draws us into the inner auditorium of our soul, quietens the loud cacophony of our estrangement, and enables us to hear the song he has sung to us since our creation, bringing it into perfect harmony with our own.

You might spend a few minutes resting in the Dive Embrace inviting Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, to draw you through your estrangement—through your resistance—into the place of rest for your soul.



[1] “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matthew 11: 29, The Message.
[2]  John 4: 16, NRSV.
[3] John 4: 29, The Message.
4] John 4: 23. 
[5]  John 4: 24.  

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