On Thursday afternoons, I sip my coffee and rest amidst the ambient noise of conversations and milk steamers. I notice routines, I pick up on family dynamics, and realize my own presence is by now, familiar. People stop by to meet, to talk, to invite me into their week’s story.
Beyond the institution’s walls are the sites where grace reigns more freely. My life is not all unread books and writers’ block. Nor is it bound up in a platform of set ideas and strict platitudes. It’s not all about pleasing the outspoken or meeting the immediate need. Much of it exists in the transient. To throw in a biblical image, grace exists at the well. Where people come as they are. A place full of passerby exchanges and brief shop talk. Meetings don’t really take place in the satisfaction, but in the insecure. Listening to the stories, I pick up on things unheard. I cross into uncharted space where the vulnerable find refuge. Where the conversations are raw. No one lets the title of “pastor” or “reverend” stop them from recognizing they are heard. Someone to talk to. Someone to share with. In many ways, we have forgotten this way.
The way of the unbiased listener. The way of holy interruption. When two stories meet around the wells of our longing.
Beyond the stiffness of “church” are places of genuine encounters at the well. The wells where we cross paths with unfamiliar Samaritans (The ones in our lives that culture tells us to avoid). Wells where hope can seep into the deepest of wounds. At the well is living water. A place that may flow with uncertainty, but more prominently flows with life.
Where are your wells? The places where your true self is understood, no matter the flaws, no matter the mistakes. “Well encounters” are where God draws us into relationships without prior assumption. And they are certainly not limited to the church building. A brewery loosens the bounds of “thou shall not” attitudes and the coffee shop invites hospitality toward confession. The street corner breeds holy encounters and the running trails breathe with the Holy Spirit. Seek God in the everyday. Let your well spaces overflow with God’s unhindered grace, a fountain of mercy that enters our lives with unhindered stride.