This Third Sunday of Lent is all about the woman who meets Jesus at the well—which got me to thinking about how we speak often about water in our faith as the basis of change, ie: Baptism. The woman at the well story is full of imagery about water and change: she is changed by her encounter with Jesus at a well for water, and thirst is also key to this story. We hear about the idea that we’ll never be thirsty again—all of our spirits will be quenched by our encounter with Jesus at a well…
So, in talking about change and transformation—a large Lenten theme (I wrote about this last week, too)—I have to ask: how are we changed by our faith and our encounters with Jesus? Is He a “sea change” for our lives?
I have been ‘talking’ a lot lately in my “Sing Praise” articles about habits—and I read recently how British researchers (published in the European Journal of Social Psychology) showed that the amount of time it took for anything to become automatic—a habit—it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days, with a median range of 66 days. Yikes! For our habits to change, or be a sea change for us, we only have Forty Days and Forty Nights!
The lesson here, really, is that any habit you want to create may actually take a long time to form, but they do form faster when we repeat them often—and we are more likely to form new habits when we clear away any obstacles to them—and then replace the old habit with something new. Obstacles that are cleared away is precisely why it’s so easy to fall for fast food; or those easy Amazon one-clicks that exist in our culture to buy anything we think we need. We are exploited by the easy—and the marketers count on it.
Any good (new) habit we want to create, (an actual ‘sea change’ in the personal cultures of our bodies, or in our lives or in our faith), means that we have to make a habit of ‘going to the well’ and ‘drinking of the water of life’—even if it’s not easy or convenient. Turning to the Lord in all things is a habit that needs to be practiced; and we need to remove the obstacles of ‘easy’ that may keep us from any necessary ‘sea change’ we want, or must, initiate in our everyday existence.
So, what’s first? How about a quiet and very thorough examination of conscience about our lives, our choices, our priorities? St. Paul says to test all things and keep what is good. Then we must replace the old stuff with new stuff in order to be the new creation as God intends us to be—the best version of ourselves! Maybe we’ll be able to see those habits that keep us from the well; and figure out those new habits that we need in order to drink deeply. This Third Sunday of Lent is good food for thought …or maybe, thirst.