There is a story in the bible of a woman who comes to Jacob's well every day. She is a water-bearer, and carries her heavy load back to others. Day after day she makes this back-breaking, yet very necessary journey.
One evening, when she arrives around six o'clock, there is a Jew, Jesus, waiting for her, a woman of Samaria.
Two souls from two different worlds, meeting at a well she admits herself, is Deep.
He asks her for water, and she questions his lack of prejudice toward her. Jesus tells her: If you really knew who I am, you would ask ME for living water, rather than me asking you, and once you drank it you would never thirst again.
Jesus had peaked her curiosity and she felt a new kind of thirst, like never before. She recognized for the first time, that she was tired of carrying the heavy load on her shoulders, back from the well every day. The idea of not only having her thirst quenched for good, but her daily load removed from her frame was intoxicating, as Christ told her: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life" (John 4:14)
With Rex's recent hospital stay this past June, I found myself relying on it yet again. I had arrived one evening to find him struggling to breathe, following the monumental journey from the bathroom to his bed. By the time we got him into bed, I could feel and see the distress and discomfort in his countenance.
Many years before, when I was in pain myself, I stopped by his office. Rex took a moment for me out of his busy day, as I wept at pain from rheumatoid arthritis in the ankle of one leg and the knee of my other leg. I explained to him, through tears of distress, that no matter what leg I step forward with, my pain was mind-numbing. My burden was heavy. I was frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed.
He pulled a chair up to face me in my seat, reached down and lifted my ankle, holding it to rest on his thigh and placed his other hand on the knee of my opposite leg. We just sat facing each other, heads bowed, for several minutes and breathed together. Rex let out a gentle sigh, asked me to look him in the eyes, and said: "Syl, I am gonna hold some of your pain for the day, just know I am here and have some of your load with me, and that I love you." At that moment I felt my burden lift a bit, we embraced, and I went on with my day, in less struggle.
In his hospital room, this past summer, I sat gently holding the back of his head, where he now struggled for breath, and said to him: "Rex, I want you to breathe with me, just follow my inhale and exhale". Not one drop of the significance of this moment was lost on me.
I explained to the others in the room (because of the intimacy of the situation), that in my work, when I feel like the healing I can offer my partner falls short of their need, that I visualize my breath with the woman at the well, from the bible.
I told Rex that on my inhale I was drinking in the living water, that comes from the Savior. It flows infinite, so filling me up and spilling over through us both, as we exhale together. I was aware of his sweet diligence at mirroring his breath to mine and could feel that he knew and was doing what I suggested.
Several moments of breathing with him passed (as I cradled his head in one hand, with my other hand gently resting on his heart). The energy of the room shifted into a calmer space, where his labored breathing eased. So sacred, stillness beyond my own comprehension by the time I left him settling into sleep.
Nearly 10 days later, I stepped off the elevator to find that Rex was dying.
I asked permission to stay, and felt my back against the wall as I lowered myself to a squat and placed my hands in Namaste at my forehead, and dropped into the woman at the well breath.
I sent all the faith and strength my heart could muster, as I worked the life-force of "Living Water" in my breath. My eyes closed, I exhaled this visualization through Rex as deeply as I could. Within a half hour he had passed. So sacred, such stillness...
It took me several days to realize that, as he was crossing the veil, I was yet again sharing this deeply spiritual space, as his breath transformed from mortal air into the reality of the breath of living water, of eternal light.
Recently one evening, following his funeral, I found myself looking at the printed program. The top of the back of the program had a scripture reference with the caption: "We love him because he loved us first - John 4:19". Puzzled I turned to John 4:19 in my bible and found the reference on the program to be a slight misprint, (as there are many chapters of John in the New Testament). The John 4:19, I had inadvertently turned to was actually a verse from the story of the Woman at the Well, where she said to Christ: "Sir I perceive that thou art a prophet". A moment of recognition.
From my life experience, I would surmise, that the breath of life flows far beyond mortality. I would have to say that I believe that our body doesn't die because we cease breathing, but that we lay it down in order to continue the breath of life beyond the limitations of our physical experience, held in time. As we move beyond this limited corridor, the eb and flow, the inhale and exhale, becomes more real, in ways the finite mind can not fully grasp.
I would also add, that in the passing of those we love and are loved by in return, this breath can be a thread of gratitude, that quenches the unquenchable thirsts of grieving and loss.
So as it sunk in, that turning to a different passage, than the one quoted on the page may not have been just a random coincidence, I marveled in the pages of the story of the woman at the well I had stumbled upon; on a lonely evening, missing him so dearly.
In reading her story firsthand, I soon felt a familiar warmth wash through my body. I felt waves of comfort, adoration and appreciation, and there was nothing else to do, but simply accept the plain and precious synchronicity of the moment, as a very sacred "Thank You", a sweet message of acknowledgment through the veil from my beloved friend.