Mark 1:41

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying as he did so,  “I am willing; become clean.”


tombstones force conciseness
for some future reading
    a summary
    what was possible
    was implemented
    however weakly
        an inspiration
        however lofty
        still stands
        and pulls

memorials for nations and cultures
shape our reading
    art occurred
    but never enough
    to offset
    genocide
        individual heroes
        stand against
        excusing mediators
        true believers

still we work
honoring both
    thankful for models
    revealing investment needed
    that a small group
    can make better
        committed to maps
        based on actual
        lay of the land
        connects more strongly

energy is compassion
compassion energetic


This is one of those interesting moments for translators as they feel their way through descriptive choices. Is Jesus indignant that he would ever be thought to choose to not heal? Is Jesus simply compassionate because that is who beloved people are? Is Jesus angry or, here, incensed at one satanic disorder of the world or another?

Regardless of how you parse Jesus’ internal state, externally his hand is extended, contact is made, and cleanliness is announced.

A measurement of what is religiously and culturally clean or unclean goes beyond the space left on this page. Look up the 8-page article, “Clean and Unclean”, in the New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible.

Initially we have a touch and announcement that moves beyond the binary of clean and unclean as measured and judged by standards old and new. This opens possibilities of a different cleanliness than that of surfaces.

Cleanliness experienced through belovedness-healing can change relationships with current religious mores and cultural norms even before a cure and risk a return before a priest says so.

Mark 1:40

One day a leper came to Jesus and, falling on his knees, begged him for help. “If only you are willing,” he said, “you are able to make me clean.”


when is a question
not an expectation
ready to shift from effacement
to full-blown demand
in one digital flip

such as this very question
about churchiness
aligned with G*D and Guns
to whine and accuse
equally false masks

if you want to
flips the power arrangement
turning generous gift
into expected transaction
based on first blamed guilt

as with every transaction
there are consequential choices
will the outcome shift relationships
will getting one’s way lead to more
will we be gentled or hardened

plea is demand camouflaged
agreement is capitulation
style is non-loopholed fate
social capital is manipulation
questioning questioners opens a quest


After two thousand years of institutionalizing Jesus’ preaching and healing, this question of what we want is difficult to hear addressed to ourselves.

Yes, we affirm Jesus being able to choose. We remain unconvinced that this gift of making-clean is a choice open to us.

It wasn’t very long ago there was an HIV-AIDS epidemic that mimicked the social dislocation of ancient “leprosy”. People were fearful enough to not touch those with HIV-AIDS. It was associated with sexual identity or orientation and claimed to be of sinful origin which falsely justified withholding funds for treating or curing HIV-AIDS.

It was not until enough people began to see the foolishness of trying to closet this disease that, finally, people with AIDS were declared to be of worth and welcomed back into society and progress was made on dealing with the disease.

The question of choice is a critical one. Do you see yourself able to be an advocate for someone labeled by the larger community as of no current worth?

Depending on whom you engage in this anti-wilderness work, you will be identified as a liberationist or a law-breaker. Neither is as true as being a baptized (beloved) learner of Jesus’ way.

Mark 1:39

And he went about making his proclamation in their synagogues all through Galilee, and driving out the demons.


the more things change
the more they remain the same
while traveling changes location
it is always ourself making a home

mothers’ anonymous is everywhere
does your mother know you are doing this
preachers are also always on duty
healers always have one more boo-boo to kiss

we find our niche for rehearsal
consolidating technical options
honing gifts and crafts
until we are who we will be


Br’er Rabbit had his briar patch. Jesus has his Galilee. What is the place where you know the lay of the land and the heart of the people?

Wheresoever this place might be is the place of your calling. There your piety and your mercy are to be enacted.

Of course it is not this place alone where we engage heaven with earth. This engagement is also not limited to formal opportunities for preaching and healing.

A conversation with a friend or grandchild is a preaching time, a time to reveal the best you know. Likewise, engaging a political or economic structure as both metaphorically and all too really demonic is a healing time. As we learn more about the strange calling to come learn from Jesus’ relationship/partnership with G*D, we find these categories to be too stilted and limiting. There is no end to the preaching we need to hear or to offer. There is no end to the healing we need to experience or to extend to others.

Discouragement and despair, illness and disability, go hand in glove with poverty. Preaching and healing are the political and practical tools needed regarding the poor and wilderness our decisions and institutions continue to create.

Inasmuch as healing is not just a personal matter, but recreates community by removing barriers and prejudice/discrimination against those whose status is seen as tainted, sinful, unclean, etc., preaching and healing are never private, single, individual acts of piety. The whole of the prophets is found here.

Discipleship practice takes place in the most difficult of places, home territory where we are all too well known and easy to dismiss. These travels of preaching and healing are on-going models for us.

Mark 1:38

But Jesus said to them, “Let us go somewhere else, into the country towns nearby so that I can make my proclamation in them also; for that was why I came.”


creatures of habit
rate repetition high

we know what works
at least what to expect

profit is made off repeat customers
relationships deepen with shared time

let’s go back and do it again
is a predictable response

sometimes we glimpse
an invisible apple always present

something else is needed
than a multitude of yesterdays

dangerous or not
misunderstood or not

we follow a ripple
not a sinking stone

prayer intends to clarify purpose
spark energy to visit beyond

we test our trust
beloved healing ho


When our temptation to be seen as greater than we are has been prayed through, there is increased energy to set a direction less taken. Over time this will make all the difference.

The construct here does make it trickier to figure out when this insight of moving on came. Jesus may have come out of Capernaum to break a healing-only model and this may have been needed with the exhaustion of the previous Sabbath. Jesus may have come out to pray his temptations and in so doing needed greater intentionality given to the preaching part of his announcing good news.

Healing—Preaching. How might these enhance one another? How do they assist folks to turn from a past of getting the same lackluster results from their actions to a future that does find the poetics of Heaven come on Earth to be realized?

When we substitute our past life for Capernaum, our prayer time will ask us what we have come out for? This will be the flip-side of finding our temptations giving us all manner of reasons to return to the tried but not necessarily true.

For the disciples a next town becomes a new wilderness. May they learn more about their temptations and ministering angels there.

Mark 1:37

and, when they found him, they exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you!”


everyone is relying on you
to do for them
what they do not see
available
to themselves

such a position sets a stage
for stage fright
freezing in the face of expectations
anxiety
for others

sanity demands a refusal
a discard from the soul
of need over gift
constricting
every good

at the very least ignorance
of tremendous import
wilderness controlling
self
majority rules

we put fingertips together
and perfunctorily bow
in appealing vanity’s face
deconstruct
popular idols


When found, presumably still in prayer, Jesus may have wondered what his learners were doing there. They had not been taught that the deeper one travels in prayer the closer they come to temptations of power. This makes their foray into a wilderness still needing to be tracked dangerous.

That the beginning learners were novices is evidenced by their recorded question. Rather than recognize their own fear of loss, it is displaced onto others.

They can sneak out of responsibility for their own state of being by being an advocate for those still trickling in for a healing. “We are concerned about the sick! So when are you coming back to continue what you have begun?”

Their question reveals some of the temptations they are facing and are not up to dealing with without the same revelation of belovedness and practice in refusing to let a price be put upon this identity. Belovedness is not lost if it is not commercially viable. Still, belovedness can easily fade, a little at a time, until it is lost within a creed or anything else to be traded for.

In time wilderness/temptation experiences will finally connect with prayer for these announcers of good. Greater deeds will be done. Deeper living into partnership with G*D will develop. Mutual tracking will lead to seeing one another and sharing of gifts will replenish souls and lives.

Mark 1:36

But Simon and his companions went out searching for him;


trackless wilderness
requires practiced trackers

as with any lost child
we gather their smelly clothes

measuring slight hints
against this reference standard

from healings galore
we search for an off-loading site

and find our quest
on a mountain of garbage

smudging sandals robe and soul
knocking off accumulated dust

when burdened by wilderness
wilderness frees our stuckness

when released from wilderness
invitations arrive to rejoice there

thought trackers locate their quarry
they cannot erase primal experience

there is no returning home the same
we are new or we are not

pause then trackers bold
sit awhile to shed weariness

reshape your clay bones
for moving on not home


Simon and his posse are bounty hunters. They have honed their tracking skills in many different settings and are being further trained as a part of a program transforming a target from fish to people.

From addiction or obsession to practical reason, we focus on finding that which is lost to us.

Have Simon and the others experienced their own loss? Does a missing Jesus mean their commitment was built on a fantasy? How much time do they have before they have lost the Jesus habit? If Jesus is missing, is their sense of mission also fast fading? Who are they if Jesus is not there for them?

In the light of day have more shown up in their doorway and they are relentlessly searching on behalf of more who need healing? Have they recognized monetary value in Jesus’ healing acts? The loss of Jesus, then, equals their financial loss?

The range of possible motivations driving their following the scent of Jesus certainly goes beyond these simplistic speculations. They are as wide as our own drivers and desires. What will apostles do or be without Jesus? He must be found!

Mark 1:35

In the morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and went out to a lonely spot, and there he began to pray.


in the darkest before dawn
   wilderness calls
well before a beckoning let it be
   wilderness calls
deep down a fathomless deep
   wilderness calls
from a center of strictest order
   wilderness calls

all too soon we make meaning
   beyond sustaining
our desire for one thing over all
   beyond sustaining
dreams and hopes are literalized
   beyond sustaining
our desire for control betrays us
   beyond sustaining

we beard beasts in their den
   prayer action
data is gathered jot and tittle
   prayer action
dots and numbers are connected
   prayer action
a next quest begins
   prayer action

furthest shores whisper
   call wilderness
strongest traditions
   call wilderness
cosmic egg cracks
   call wilderness
wilderness itself
   calls wilderness

Would it be the healing or the silencing that would drain you the most?

Whichever. It is obvious from the time of arising that there is an urgency to be about the combination of being alone (solitary place) and being in a relationship (prayer).

One of the tricky aspects of prayer is that it is both listening and negotiating. It takes practice to pull off both of these at the same time.

We listen for what is already erupting from deep within us. We negotiate our location within the world and what that means in regard to a next activity.

Listening brings echoes of past prayers and a far-off hymn of a next creation.

Negotiation navigates between our understanding of the principles of life and the temptations that would subtly subvert them.

This is a time of shaking off the detritus of the day to look again, rather than simply plow ahead or take the path of least resistance yet available.

Praying about our praying seems to always be in order that we might better walk between the competing calls of life. To simply be a beloved is not strategic life plan. Implementation is important.

Mark 1:34

Jesus cured many who were ill with various diseases, and drove out many demons, and would not permit them to speak, because they knew him to be the Christ.


my friend was healed
how about yours
well good

I’m glad
but also a bit sad
there were some left out

that blind guy saw better
but not enough to work
that woman trailing blood
never got in the door
nor that little girl
or that Roman Servant
Saul is still prickly
Sorcerer Simon
tried to make it about him
I still can’t figure out
what the Iscariot was doing there

still healing many
was a pretty good show
particularly when
he yelled at Crazy Joe to shut-up

next time I’ll see about my hammertoe
that keeps catching my sandal
see you at tonight’s show
remember get there early

be among the many


There wouldn’t be a story here without the healings of internal breakdowns within the human body and external occupation of a person. So we stipulate that healing took place. Otherwise we start debating how they occurred. There are as many ideas about the mechanisms of healing as there are positions on a scale between any two or more religious sensibilities.

With this second mention of silencing demons added to the personalization of a descending spirit at baptism it is worth asking if this is theologically required or if it is a way of keeping it out of a Spirit v. Spirit contest. Jesus’ authority is better rested on his teachings and variety of actions.

When based on what people experience of Jesus modeling their own theosis for them, we are back to the call to follow.

What are you seeing and how are you putting this together with the rest of what you know? What present systemic demons need silencing? Unhealthy living needs silencing? Fate-talk needs silencing when things simply happen? In such silence-fasts, good can grow.

Mark 1:33

and the whole city was gathered around the door.


a door promises
more than a view
Kafka knew more than most
the futility of a guarded door
where we come to perish
still a door beckons
a new beginning
absolution
healing
without even a crack
hopes rise after being dashed
even fearing the worst tiger
we gather in expectation
belovedness personified restored


a cry
more doors
we surge
exploding roofs
assailing heaven
searching
claiming
for one
for all
they healed
now me
now mine
then they
for good
we riot


A doorway is a beginning. There is a sense in which we are perpetually attempting to leave our wilderness behind to be able to enter a protective door and have it hold against the hordes.

There is another sense in which we need to leave our stuck place that keeps us bottled up. A door to a great outdoors, even with its suspected dangers, is worth the risk to leave our captivity behind.

Doors have an on-going fascination to cats and dogs. Also to us. We are also perverse enough to always see more wholeness on the other side of the door.

There is hyperbole regarding the number of people gathered, but it accords with the sense that what brought them has an on-going energy. It also sets up a retreat that will be needed because the only way to continually expend energy is to gain it.

To have the whole community gathered in a doorway reminds us of the pressure of a preferred future reaching back through a dove diving in front of an equivalent to creation’s, “It is good”.

Why this is a stand-alone verse is unknown. It could be removed from the text without loss of meaning. As long as it is here we might as well remember another gathering in Sodom around a house (Genesis 19). Rather than gather to call out a curse, here folks gather to enter in for a blessing.

Mark 1:32

In the evening, after sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who were ill or possessed by demons;


sabbath end
ends rest
healings needed
before sabbath eve
and all during
are still needed

we gather
yet again
sabbath constraint
finally cast aside
journeying toward healing
wherever it be

here there
missed again
maybe there
we show
bring a friend
await a touch

new creation
begins again
rhythmic weeks
lead to sabbath
through its rest
and on beyond

constant gatherings
confirm gifts
call good
pre- and post-
healing sets expectations
of everyday work


The end of Sabbath loosens it accumulated limitations. Each restriction was undoubtedly well-intentioned to assist in engaging a rest that restores us to a creative mode. Over time the intention is lost and the form is retained.

The end of Sabbath means people can travel without frowns from their neighbors. A city-ful of restricted lives has gotten the word without Facebook or Twitter. Whether that word came from the synagogue or through the community grapevine, a word of possible healing has gone out.

Another image of urgency is present when we consider an onslaught of people at sunset. Word has gotten out through the day and people are mobilizing at doorways around the city. Everyone pacing and awaiting an agreed upon signal.

As in a gold rush, a health rush can be dangerous in the attempt to have health restored. Some with the sniffles might be able to get there first while those hobbling on a crutch are again the last of the last. Can you imagine Peter’s mother-in-law outside triaging the avalanche of people desiring healings?

This is a dramatic scene we will do well to work out rather than simply read over it as an inconvenient detail. Our resolution of how this plays out in a biblical M.A.S.H. episode will tell us much about how we see our own partnership or mutual deaconing unfolding in everyday life.