He instructed them to take nothing but a staff for the journey – not even bread, or a bag, or coins in their purse;
a walking stick is humbling
announcing practice for a walker
wheel chair and death bed to follow
scouts of childhood and youth
required a 6′ staff
for wilderness travel
with a stick and utility knife
we’re good to go
everything else can be improvised
this supportive tool takes many shapes
fellow-traveler kindness of strangers
accumulated experience wisdom
uphill it pulls us onward
downhill it breaks a descent
plainly it extends our range
a rod and staff bring comfort
assurance enough to lean forward
courage enough for that one more step
In the aftermath of active distrust in Jesus’ hometown, we find an exercise in trust given to the Twelve to go into other towns with a basic trust in the bounty found in communal life. This is a basic trust found in religious sensibilities around the world.
And so the Twelve enter into a vision quest.
There is an urgency here to reestablish a source of energy based on a bounty of belovedness, innate goodness, and abundant creation. Mutual healing and mutual feasting are the poles of a larger life that moves from the seeds of the past to tomorrow’s harvest.
Mark differs from Matthew and Luke in allowing walking mercies, a staff (here) and sandals (next verse). These are reminiscent of preparations for an Exodus (Exodus 12:11). The healing of the nations begins by building a community. Jesus and the Twelve have been held captive by mistrust (a hazard of being occupied; an occupational hazard). This journey from slavery to freedom goes on at every level of relationship—one’s own heart captured by the powers of the day or bound by the norms of a formative family.
A journey at the trust level reclaims an arena of liberation by intentionally setting out to liberate those constrained by dis-ease in their life even before any hospitality is offered to the journeyers.
The Twelve are initiated into Jesus’ prophetic calling, not as missionary colonialists, but, practical connectors of G*D and Neighb*r.