WOMAN AT THE WELL 5/28/06 @ 10:30AM
New Hope United Methodist Church
7115 W. Hood Ave. (very Northwest corner of Chicago)
Chicago, IL 60631
I love this little church. Great spirit. Great fun. And, a dancer's dream: beautiful sprung wood floor!
They asked me to dance the woman at the well. I felt intimidated. I've heard very deep (pardon the pun) analyses of that scripture passage, didn't know if I could do it justice. I didn't know what to do. I asked other liturgical dancers what they had done with it and they shared their stories. Nothing was speaking to me.
Then, the traditional song, "Jesus met the Woman at the Well," was brought to my attention. The very talented choir director, Liz Okayama, arranged a choral version, the choir learned it, and was phenomenal. I liked their interpretation better than Peter, Paul, and Mary's.
The scripture story is a story of the developing relationship between two people so it cried out for a duet. I danced and my husband moved. We were very complementary. A Sacred Dance Guild member who came said that he was a powerful Jesus in his simple movement, his demeanor, his face, and the energy between us was powerful, too.
And, as often happens in my liturgical ministry, the magic happened in the moment that Sunday after hours of fretting that I can't dance anymore, etc. I had thought that the song would follow the reading of the gospel but Liz said that it's usually done after the sermon. Well, I'm so glad it was because Pastor Bob Campbell's sermon was so moving, it inspired and informed my interpretation of the song. The theme of the sermon was "damaged goods." He held up a dented Campbell's soup can and suggested that the woman at the well felt like damaged goods.
While in my rehearsals I had envisioned her transformation from down to up, I hadn't really thought that deeply about her entrance. Listening to him, I realized that she was beaten down from the very beginning. I walked in with my water jug on my shoulder and my eyes on the floor, and I didn't look at the people until the third verse when her transformation began. And, the celebration of her realization of who Jesus was was wonderful. The dancing felt good. I can dance after all!
Pastor Bob talked about putting the dented cans at a "free table" at the food pantry, and how one man always took a lot of them. When Pastor Bob asked him about it, he said "what's inside is what counts." . . . .
I'd love to dance the woman at the well again, please let me know if you are interested.