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Guest post: A Living Word, a recent Glen O’Brien radio broadcast

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Transcript from A Living Word, RTÉ Radio 1, broadcast 19 April 2010

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria [John 4: 1-42]


"Water of Life" by Stephen Broadbent, sculptors


Lord, on a visit to Chester Cathedral I was very taken by a modern piece of sculpture in the cathedral garden, depicting your meeting with the woman of Samaria.

From the distance your two figures form a circle almost, a perfect completeness.

In the piece, you, Lord, are semi-recumbent, with your torso curved upwards.  The ends of your legs become a flattened piece of bronze which in turn extend to become the legs of the woman of Samaria.  She is positioned arching over you as the upper part of the circle.  Her face and yours meet about a foot apart.  Her outstretched hands are holding a bowl, with water overflowing, and your outstretched hands are holding hers, holding the bowl.

I have seldom seen your face so close to a woman’s, both of you looking into each other’s eyes, transfixed. There seemed to me to be a tenderness beyond words expressed in those faces.

And the hands!  There is a sense in which you are not only holding the bowl of water, but are holding the woman, your hands tenderly cupping hers.

Lord, so much flooded into my mind, a giving and a receiving on both sides, the experience of holding and being held, the circling of the two bodies, something experienced in lovemaking.

This sculpture told me so much about life and love, tenderness, intimacy, the bonding that takes place through the eyes, all of which is part of the ‘gushing up to eternal life’.

And there is also the overflowing bowl, the hundredfold as experienced in love, which calls us to reach out to others, with our eyes, with our hands and with our gifts.

Glen O’Brien is author of “Praying from the Margins: Gospel Reflections of a Gay man” [Columba Press, 2001]
He edited “Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences” [Currach Press, 2003]
– both books are readily available online


Written by Frank McMullan

14 June 2010 at 11:47

Posted in Church, Glen O'Brien

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