When repetition occurs in our life, some might say the planets are aligning, the universe is trying to speak to us or through a Christian lens, some say it is the work of the Holy Spirit trying to reveal something to us.
I first encountered the story while watching the series, The Chosen with a group of dedicated fans. The two-part episode titled, ‘Clean’, cleverly incorporates the many aspects of the Jewish purity laws. The haemorrhaging women is clearly depicted as someone who was feared, rejected, living on the fringes and in need of love and human connection. Her faith was so strong that with the single touch of Jesus’s robe she was healed. For those who have seen the artwork depicting this story at the Chapel of the Encounter in Magdala know of the impact of this single touch to cure and heal as the artwork is so large it covers an entire wall.
The second time I encountered the story was when Dr Debra Snoddy, Lecturer of Biblical Studies at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, provided a formative day on the Gospel of Mark. One of the topics she unpacked was the miracle stories and she had several points about why these stories are so important. These being, they attest Jesus actions as coming from God, they tell us something about who God is and what God is doing, they highlight that the actual occurrence of a miracle has a very powerful worldview-changing effect on those who witness it. On a basic and practical level, they allow those that need healing to be accepted by society so they can simply participate in society.
The third time I encountered this story was when I was on retreat this past weekend with over twenty women from across Australia at St Jospeh’s Retreat Centre Kincumber. The retreat was organised by Soul Sisters, Trish, Annie and Ree who are the founders of Women of the Well.
The Soul Sisters are united in a collective belief that there is a genuine thirst among women seeking spiritual growth. From the initial dreaming of creating Sacred Space for women, the Soul Sisters were accompanied by their amazing Spiritual Director, Sr Lynette Pearce (lovingly known as Lynnie), a Sister of St Joseph of the Lochinvar community. Sadly, during their Retreat in November 2022, the Soul Sisters were informed of Lynnie's death. She is greatly missed and her legacy lives on.
The retreat creates a sacred space to share stories and listen for the Spirit’s whisper in our lives, it is an opportunity for women who are yearning to deepen their already established relationship with their Creator. The weekend retreat has been designed to assist women:
REST, be refreshed and have your thirst quenched with ‘Living Water’ (John 4:6).
REFLECT on who you are, your life and what you're being called to.
RELEASE unhelpful obstacles that prevent you flourishing.
RECONNECT with your heart, your vision and the Spirit that is speaking to you in this time and place.
The retreat is designed to deepen our spirituality, experienced through prayer, meditation, painting, craft, music, journaling and sharing in small groups.
While there was an emphasis of the Woman at the Well story there was a focus on a need for healing which is echoed in the story of the bleeding woman.
While on retreat the Japanese philosophies of Wabi – Sabi and Kintsugi came to my mind. Wabi – Sabi "flawed beauty” is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise but to bring beauty to what is broken. It is through the sharing of our story that a common thread is found which can assist in tying the knots of a frayed tapestry or help us untie the knots that are holding us back in life.
As we move closer to the Advent season, we are reminded of Mary, the teenage girl who had the faith and courage to say ‘Yes’. This would not have been easy especially considering 1st Century Palestine cultural honour and shame customs. The birth of Jesus and his ministry provides a counter cultural societal view that all should be treated with dignity and respect no matter of their life situations. The story of the bleeding women found in the gospels teaches us what can be achieved when we prescribe to a Christian lens and have faith.
For information about upcoming WOW retreats go to: https://www.womenofthewell.com.au/
Image taken from a photograph taken in 2017 at the Chapel of the Encounter in Magdala.
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