Happiness invaded my entire being. My jug swung back and forth as I danced toward the well, smiling at
nothing and pirouetting in abandonment.
“What makes you so happy this morning?” A girlish voice interrupted my dance.
“Hello, Sarah.” I greeted my best friend and Joseph‟s sister. “How did you ever get here so early?”
She apparently couldn‟t contain her happiness either because, like me, she was swinging her jug. “Couldn‟t
sleep. Much too near our wedding days.”
“Me too.” I grinned back at her.
As close friends, we saw each other daily...not only at the well, but community ovens where women baked
bread. Since the announcement in the synagogue of our marriages, Sarah and I seemed to grow even closer.
We smiled and giggled at each other as we made our way to the well. The only site to collect water for our
homes was on the outskirts of Nazareth. Leaving the city gates, we strode over rocks smoothed by millions of
footsteps. Women had made this journey collecting water for their families and animals for hundreds of years.
Although it could be slippery at times, the path was easy to walk on now.
Our journey was usually cool because the limbs of trees formed a canopy over our heads. A slight breeze ruffled
the leaves, kissing our cheeks and blowing our hair.
Reaching our destination, I saw that other women had arrived. Maybe I wasn‟t as early as I had thought. By
now, the sun was peeking over the horizon. Orange streaks exploded across the sky, blending with the grey of
night to turn the overhead expanse into mauve, pink and silver streaks.
“Good morning, Rebecca,” I called to a friend. “I thought we were early.”
Rebecca‟s plump little arm lifted her jug of water from the well. “Actually, you‟re late.” She smiled and shook
her head. “Too busy planning your wedding, I suppose,” she teased. Although only a few months older than
Sarah and me, she had been married for a year and felt superior to us, because she was expecting her first baby.
The well was about three or four feet high and built of sturdy stones set together with clay. We were told this
well had cooled many ancient peoples, quenching the thirst of prophets, their families and animals.
Watching Rebecca plunge her second jug into the well, I could almost taste the purity of the colorless liquid.
After bringing her filled container up, she placed it on the rim alongside her other one.
Rebecca picked up both jugs, nodded farewell and was gone.
Sarah and I gossiped with our friends and neighbors as we waited our turn to lower our jugs into the water.
“When Aaron dropped by last night, we were talking about how happy we are that you and I were betrothed
about the same time.”
“Oh?” I stooped down to write the name of “Joseph” in the sand at our feet. I found myself doing that quite
frequently since our betrothal.
“Aaron said now he and Joseph could have families that would grow up together, just as they had played
together all their lives.” A smile danced around her generous mouth.
A happy individual, she showed a lightness of spirit that always amazed me. Sandaled feet peeked from beneath
a robe dyed light blue. Her large brown eyes crinkled as she rearranged a lock of black hair. Girls our age
normally wore hair pinned closely to the head. We either fastened it on top or plaited,
then wound the long rope around our head. Sarah‟s, however, always fell out of the pins. The tendrils curled
around her doll-like face. Her nose was smaller than mine. I often teased her about having a Roman, not a
The last woman in line moved from the well, her jug firmly placed on her shoulder. “See you in the morning.”
She waved, then went on her way.
I glanced at her, smiled and picked up my jug.