Mark 9:33

They came to Capernaum. When Jesus had gone into the house, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?”

a lack of questions
only deepens arguments

each and every certainty
wedges a wider gap

so many bystander perspectives
cancel each other out

was it one shot or three
from that knoll or rooftop

who knows how we first tangled
only now there is no web escape

we’ve now killed one another
not even 6 creation-days will suffice

I know you can be mistaken
I’m still not sure about me

On a journey of learning about the consequences of living a life that mimics deep compassion through the short-hand command of “love your neighbor”—embodying a new way of living while still suffering and dying amidst an economic–political–social model of scarcity—it appears that those who were supposed to be learning a new way of being have been side-tracked by a shiny object (privilege).

They could be arguing about any number of past wonderings about seeds or identity or loaves or weather witching or prayer or . . . .

Almost any past conundrum can be used as a present excuse to avoid a current difficulty. It is so much easier to return to a typical sophomoric speculation than stick to an immediate concern. Even though we still won’t be able to argue our way out of a koan, it feels much more manageable than being stuck with trading our contracted identity for new suffering. Phrased this way it importantly mirrors other traditions that trade suffering for a new identity.

This is not untypical for all those important questions along the way that we have put off for one reason or another. We need only remember that the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus about what we call the hero’s journey synopsized into suffering, death, and new life. When the basic questions are avoided there is an automatic backsliding to smaller and smaller arguments raised to higher and higher stakes to distract us from the persistence of the reality of Empire all around and an intentional and mistaken dismissal of a healing balm that would rouse a slumbering repentance with a kiss of hope.