When evening fell, the boat was out in the middle of the sea, and Jesus on the shore alone.
in this time
it is becalmed evening
tomorrow comes visiting
in realms separately joined
both reveal the other
we soften our gaze
to move from a day’s passing
and focus our attention
to move toward unexplored joy
With Bethsaida around the corner, why was the boat in the middle of the lake? Perhaps their deserted place wasn’t where we thought it was. Mark’s sense of geography is less than helpful to those with a sense of the lay of the land.
With location being metaphorical, the middle of the lake is the equivalent of up a river with no paddle or another difficult time. Time, along with space, can also be suggestive rather than accurate in regard to some recognized standard. As “darkness comes” is time’s way of indicating every experience of uncertainty.
It is important to ask about prayer at this point. Jesus is off to do it. What manner of prayers did the Twelve employ as they entered the boat? What about entering evening on the water? Or when things get dicey a bit later? Where is prayer all along the way?
Communal prayers are as needed as prayers when one is alone. Communal prayers are more difficult to put together or pause to listen to.
We’ve heard this story before. We remember a directly similar scene from another night on the Lake. We can also begin to hear similarities beyond a boat after Dark. Three disciples are invited to travel up a mountain to witness a transfiguration. We won’t be overly surprised to also hear connections with another transformation; this time with Twelve on a lake.
Whether Jesus is along or not, there is an adventure around every corner that will ask us to push beyond our latest engagement with ourselves, the world around, or a partnership beyond all reason.
One of the places we need to wrestle a bit is with the relationship between Jesus praying and the Twelve on the move. Enjoy these theodicy questions: Does Jesus pray for a storm for the Twelve to learn from? If not, was Jesus lax in praying for safety for others?