From The Wellspring of Worship by Jean Corbon, trans. by M. J. O’Connell, (pages 21-22). First published as Liturgie de Source, 1980:
Men thirst and look for water wherever they think they will find it. As they wander without any horizon in sight and no way of escape, they dig a well each time they pitch their tent. The wonderful thing is that the history of their salvation always begins with the digging of a well. “We find the patriarchs constantly digging wells.”¹ We ourselves are these patriarchs, traversing a promised land as strangers in our own inheritance. Beside their wells they also build altars to their gods; their religion, their ideology, their money, their power. Men are thirsty: How could they fail to dig where they think they may find water?
Even the denials that spring up from our atheistic unconsciousness betray our nostalgia. “They say that they thirst not; they say that this is not a well, that this is not water. They say that this is not a well of water as they have imagined it to be, and they say there is no water.”² But these same men, so sure of themselves, cannot but continue to be still expectant, for to stop thirsting would mean they were already sunk in the sleep of death.
Nor does he sleep who placed in the human soul both the thirst and the expectation. Indeed, he is the first to thirst and to set out in search of us, to the point of joining us beside our pathetic wells. “Start with these wells, traverse the Scriptures in search of wells, and reach the Gospels. There you will find the well beside which our Savior was resting, wearied by his journey, when a Samaritan woman came to draw water from it.”³
It is beside the well that he waits for us.
¹Origen, Homilies on Genesis 13.
²Paul Claudel, The Humiliation of the Father, act II, sc. 2, in Three Plays, trans. J. Heard (Boston, 1945), 185.
³Origen, Homilies on Numbers 12.