Mark 5:41

Taking her hand, Jesus said to her, “Talitha, koum!” – which means ‘little girl, I am speaking to you – Rise!’


Tentative and provisional
A single life or all society
Learns to be on guard
In defense against unknown danger
That slouches in shadow almost here
Hand outstretched toward our heart
Asserting breath’s frailty word’s silence

Kindness is not protective or victorious
Of or over existential threats
Under a shroud of ever-increasing sleep
Merciful kindness invites us to dance


An unnamed woman reached out to touch Jesus. Jesus now reaches out to touch an unnamed girl. We find responses to calls and calls expecting a response. We are to hold our call and response lightly lest we get trapped in a bygone call or a compulsive response.

These two are related to one another in a larger rhythm of ministry. Myers puts it well:

The healing journey must, however, take a necessary detour that stops to listen to the pain of the crowd. Only when the outcast woman is restored to true “daughterhood” can the daughter of the synagogue be restored to true life. That is the faith the privileged must learn from the poor.

Touch is basic ministry, even more basic than conversation. Touch connects and raises partners who had not previously seen one another in this fashion. Touch is basic from G*D working clay to what it means to fish for people.

In Mark the result of touch is an arising, a great getting up moment (ἐγείρω, egeirō, arise!). This same word is used with Simon’s mother-in-law (1:31), a paralytic (2:11,12), and Jesus after death for teaching the good news of change in hearts and lives through partnered mercy (14:28; 16:6).

If arising does not happen, it may well be that our touch was more about ourself than another. This is a time to revisit a wilderness retreat with a question about our own privilege and blindness to the depth of need of the poor and dispossessed.

Try using Mark’s Aramaic and Hebrew words to make a poem: Boanerges (Thunder, 3:17); talitha koum (arise, 4:41); corban (gift, 7:11), Ephaphatha (open, 7:34); Hosanna (save now, 11:9); Abba (daddy, 14:36); Golgotha (Skull Place, 15:22); Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani (My G*D, my G*D, why have you left me, 15:34).

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