Mark 4:1

Jesus again began to teach by the sea; and, as an immense crowd was gathering around him, he got into a boat, and sat in it on the sea, while all the people were on the shore at the water’s edge.


teachers learn pedagogy
student levels and environment
shape moments of engagement

teachers teach in situ
never to a passing fad
mistaking facts for meaning

teacher’s plans anticipate
next opportunities built from here
to keep curiosity healthy

teachers stand on desks
sit in boats wander freely
to best meet a multitude of muses

teachers attend to listening
a whisper in an ear
a clear word ricocheting through a crowd

the shape of a moment
calls forth more
than a teacher already has


Yet another beginning. “Again” (palin) reminds us to pause and cast our minds back to previous lake settings of callings, teachings about Sabbath, and lakeside healings.

Again and again we go down to the sea where, according to E.E. Cummings:

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)

it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

Jesus’ musings about life (a future life available now) are about to tumble out in a series of parables that will put us at sea, trying to catch up and keep up with the images.

A part of our experience of wilderness is going in circles. Without a compass or other guide our tendency is to follow a leaning or habit and return to where we have already been. Parables assist us by having a surprise, beyond what we ordinarily see or think. If we are to season our tendency for repetition of the past with an increasing dose of a preferred future, shocks help lift our eyes.

Note that Jesus’ teaching is not oriented toward the passing of a written test. Given that testing is endemic to life and there are a multitude of reasons for not resisting a temptation, we are going to hear stories of ordinary items that will surprise us into reorienting our lives away from an old normal to a new relationship with the future—from fish to people, so to speak.

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