"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hymn: Living Water

A joyful hymn celebrating the biblical stories of Hagar, the courageous enslaved woman become matriarch of Islam, also beloved by African American Christian theologians like Dr. Diana Hayes, Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, and Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman as the only person to see God and live in the Old Testament; Miriam and her brothers leading Israel across the Red Sea to freedom; John the Baptist immersing Jesus in the Jordan river; and the wise woman of Samaria bringing her village to faith in Jesus after meeting him at the well. It was a gift during my Advent 2012 retreat, when I borrowed an amazing olive wood statue of Photini (the enlightened one, as our Orthodox and Eastern Rite sisters and brothers call her) from my Jesuit director.

Too many artistic portrayals--including the large one in a lovely outdoor plaza at my graduate alma mater) showing her looking shamefaced, reflecting the mistaken exegesis of her as a great sinner rather than a Torah observant widow or involuntary divorcee driven to concubinage by sexism and injustice (since only men could initiate divorce and sexual slavery to one man or many was the only recourse for an abandoned woman without a family for refuge). This one instead showed her confident and radiant, striding back to her village with vase on shoulder ready to become the first evangelist to a despised people. The closest image I could find is above, though the seller amusingly names her the "Sumerian" Woman at the Well, of which there were certainly plenty too!

1. Living water from the womb of God,
Springing forth from desert sand,
Where a mother fleeing from abuse
Found the way to freedom’s land.
May we see your glory face to face,
Feel and share your saving power,
Claim your justice and your gentle grace,
Bursting forth in radiant flower.

2. Living water from the womb of God
Parting to set captives free,
Where the siblings called to lead them forth
Sang and danced for liberty.
May we use our gifts as you inspire,
Speak your truth to evil’s might,
Cross the desert led by cloud and fire,
Wait with patience for your light.

3. Living water from the womb of God
At the river of rebirth,
Where the cousins born to prophets bold
Cast your fire upon the earth.
May hear our Papa’s loving voice,
Close our ears to tempters’ lies,
Seek your wisdom in each daily choice,
Keep your truth before our eyes.

4. Living water from the womb of God,
At the well in noonday sun,
Where an outcast and a rabbi
Shared the sweet truth of the One.
May we know your Spirit deep within,
Living water, fiery dove,
Shout your good news to friends, foes, and kin,
Freed to preach and heal and love.

Text: Laura Marie Grimes, for Rev. Dr. Debra Myers, copyright 2012
Tune: Beach Spring 8 7 8 7 D (God of Day and God of Darkness)

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