Mark 6:34

On getting out of the boat, Jesus saw a great crowd, and his heart was moved at the sight of them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


at least someone retreated in place
catching a glint of sun on placid blue
a single moment eclipses memories
expected privilege is comforted by vanity
desired life eternal tested with death
well-doing karma faced with delay
no breath for sail but plenty for soul

freshened eyes see into consequences
striving for a cure only lasts
until a next malady brings its question
meaning is left for the shadows
sun’s yellow reflected blue bounces
into a dry brown landscape
reframing healing to living anyway


Compassion is an overworked and undervalued word. I am assisted by trying to hear it in different ways. Bratcher204

reminds us about how this has been translated into languages beyond those we usually think of: “Compassion is an emotion frequently described in terms closely related to words for ‘pain’ and ‘crying’, e.g. ‘he cried in his insides’ (Shilluk), ‘pain came to his heart’ )Tojolabal), ‘his heart was full of mercy’ (Bare’e), and ‘he died of pity’ (Kiyaka).”

In Greek the root σπλάγχνον (splagchnon, stronger than spleen to refer to the intestines, bowels) is the locus for what is translated as compassion. Strong’sG4698 talks about it this way,

… the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.)

When was the last time you thought about Jesus’ bowels? This is indicative of how we have sanitized religion to remove it from the hunger, physical processes, and even sexuality of our everyday self.

At stake is going to be the way the Twelve attend to their own bowel habits. Will their compassion be constipated or regular? In turn this is a question to ourselves. It seems to be in the midst of testing and retreating deeper than the test that Jesus finds a way to escape our usual dualistic ways of engaging the differences that come with others. Is our compassion enough to double us over to sense both their and our own need for teaching and healing and feeding?

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