There was once a man and woman who lived in a village not far from the local well. The water there was clear and perfect and always tasted fresh. Each day they collected water from it and took it back to their village for everyone to share. However one day the man and woman got bored of visiting the same well every day and so they started to dig a new well, on a piece of waste ground. Eventually they came across another supply of water, it was rust coloured and tasted strange, but they filled a couple of jars and took it back home. At first no one would touch it, but they tried drinking it themselves and, though it tasted bad, it made them feel strange and happy; so they kept drinking it, and telling their friends about it. Before long others tried it too, and a split grew up in the village between those who preferred the clean water and those who drank the rust coloured supply. The man and woman stopped fetching the clear water so others took on the job, even though they had plenty of other things to worry about. The man and woman found that those who drank their rusty water come back more and more frequently for a drink so they started to make a small charge. Then a not-so-small charge. In spite of this more people began to drink the new water, neglecting the clear water. Some of the important jobs in the village began to get overlooked as the people paid more attention to getting their drinks.
After a while more people drank from the rusty water than the clear well, and the villagers grew quarrelsome, find fault with one another, and the community began to fall apart. People argued about which was the better drink, and those drinking the clear water found themselves in the minority, some even laughed and ridiculed them for still drinking water from the old well. ‘Look how old-fashioned they are!’ people said. ‘Times are changing, you should try this new water, it makes you feel great.’
Those who drank the new water were never quite satisfied though, and the more they drank, the more they need to drink.
It wasn’t long before the landowner came to visit. He’d heard the tales of this new well and wanted to find out what was going on. He stayed for a few days, watched the villagers and chatted to them. They offered him some of the new water, but he only took a sip and refused the rest. After a couple of days he called a village meeting. Most people came, apart from those who had drunk rather too much of the new water and couldn’t remember where the meeting was being held.
‘There are two wells near this village,’ he told everyone. ‘Two water supplies. However, only one of them will satisfy you, the other seems to create disharmony, selfishness and division. Now it’s up to you, you have the freedom to choose, but I’m begging you, please drink from the good well, the fresh water, the supply that will satisfy. It’s the best way forward for your community.’
This made the landowner unpopular with many of the villagers. And it wasn’t long before they decided to reject his advice, even though they had respected him in the past. When they heard that he was going to stay for a little while longer they made plans to get rid of him once and for all…
Based loosely on Jeremiah 2 v 13
‘…for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.’