Rebecca, Water Bearer

 

 

Rebecca, Water Bearer (8″ high)

There was this woman Rebecca, thin as could be, with long hair down her back, beautiful hair—thick and shiny. You just couldn’t believe such a thin woman could grow all that hair!  And this hair she combed out, and braided, every day, for it was her glory, this hair of hers. But her husband he didn’t like that, for he was to be her glory, by his way of thinking. She ought to stir the fire up, he said. She ought to plump up the pallet bed with more hay, he said. She ought to bring in more wood. She ought to be boiling the water for his tea. She ought to have got to market, and bought the lamb cuts he liked.

She did the best she could to please her husband, except she would not quit combing out and braiding her hair in the early morning. So one day, he just got hold of her by that hair of hers, and drug her out of the house, and told her never to show her face in his door again!

That meant as well she could not show her face anywhere in the village. Even her parents disowned her. So she walked on to the next village, and then the next, and there found a little grotto in the rocks, just on the outskirts, and made it comfortable, with mats she wove from river rushes. Shaped and fired her own water pot from river clay, too, a nice piece of work.  She made what money she could doing favors for traders passing through, if you get my meaning, and one day found herself with child.

Well, she was a marked woman, then, if she wasn’t before. But she would have that child, no matter how the villagers shunned her. She was not about to take set it off to die somewhere, be picked apart by the birds. She had the baby—no midwife to help, mind you—and raised the girl on her own. What they would do together, these two, was walk out to a spring, not the village well, but a spring, that ran good water, straight out of the rocks. Nobody but her would fetch their water from there, for it was said to be pagan, and drew the pagan gods. But she never encountered any of those, only peace and the warm sun. She’d comb out her hair, and braid it, and none to bother her, and let the child play.

But this one time she went up there at night, when there was just enough moon to see by, while the child slept. She just got a yen to go, the night being so mysterious, and took her pot along, and when she got there, and knelt down to set the pot under the spring water, the whole sky lit up, and she thought she heard voices. She just knelt there, so transfixed the water filled up her pot and flowed over! She had to pour some out, to get the pot up on her head to carry. Still there was an aura of light about, and just a trace of those voices on the air.

When she got back to her little house, she set the pot down and touched the forehead of her child, as if she could by that touch impart something of what she had experienced. Maybe it worked, for it was that child, who grew into a woman, with troubles of her own, who met Jesus at the well that time.