Mark 5:38

Presently they reached the leader’s house, where Jesus saw a scene of confusion – people weeping and wailing incessantly.


commotional chorus deafens eyes
too many pitches timbres times
block wisdom from every other sense
every accumulated wilderness scream
echoes in an empty shell of self
internal and external cacophonies burst forth

the worst seems truest
finding a new normal is missing in action
dread touches and then clamps on
dampening down any glimmer of otherwise
choices evaporate leaving toxic minerals
cries are louder than everything else

when every wrong only gets worse
our sense of conspiracy expands
weakening everything under the sun
turning mere vanity to hard rain
we wail and flail closed-eyed
our agreed upon reality blinds ears


In some cultures the appropriate response to death does not involve the more common response of wailing. The same is true for some people.

One reason given for a deep quiet at a time of death is to allow the passage of a spirit to move from this world to whatever is perceived as next, even if that next is a silence of its own.

In Jesus’ day, wailing would be expected. For the poorest funeral there would have been a minimum of two flutes and a wailer. This grieving would not have been among the poorest—a commotion is to be expected.

It is difficult to hold one’s trust level when the behaviors of those around are giving testimony to a contrary reality. Death must be true if there is this much expressed dismay. Do you see Jesus and Jairus continuing the “all will be well” mantra as they come to and enter a mourning space? Is Jesus still holding to this on behalf of those who can’t?

There would be no way to have a teaching at this point for the strongest parable would crumble in the face of such loss. If a story won’t have an impact, a rational discourse or even holding open the possibility of an alternative outcome would only inflame the situation.

The wilderness has invaded the city and, in particular, this house. Here there is temptation and yet unrecognized resources. Just because Jesus is here doesn’t mean that all the uncertainty generated by a wilderness isn’t powerfully present. And so we wail and wail.

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