Mark 6:46

After he had taken leave of the people, he went away up the hill to pray.


another mountain
another prayer

a dead sea
a death valley
sahara gobi

everywhere we be
mountain top possibilities
rise from no-where
to view every-where

first we say goodbye
fasting from relationships
commencing a vision quest

settling one stage further
up a seven-storied life


With Mark readers can’t escape ambiguity. The good-bye mentioned here can be a mild bidding of farewell, a bit stronger taking leave, and an even stronger, “get rid of”. Of course we have our images of Jesus that have built over the millennia that project all manner of manners upon this human one. The reader will make of it what they will.

Regardless of the style of parting, there is also a live question as to whether the “them” mentioned refers to the Twelve or the Crowd. Here, again, the reader has a choice to make as the style may be different depending upon to whom a good-bye is directed.

Jesus regularly prays in a variety of places. Jesus’ first time away in Mark is to a desert for testing, which shapes one’s prayer [1:12–13]; when a whole town gathered he sought out a deserted place for prayer which led to expanding his range [1:35]; having gone to a shoreline (to pray?), a crowd gathered and Levi was called [2:13–14]; a mountain was ascended and resulted in the Twelve being called up and appointed [3:13]; later, upon a mountain, a transfiguration [9:2ff.], and coming down will be a prayerful exorcism [9:14ff.]; even on a road, Jesus can get out ahead (praying?) ]10:32]; perhaps as a surprise we can imagine Jesus looking for prayer in the Temple [11:11] and returning later to insist upon it; prayer goes on within a garden of olive trees in the context of a sleeping triumvirate [14:32ff.]; prayer may be particularly present with a cone of silence in the midst of a trial [15:5]; a prayer continued in the presence of crucifixion pain [15:34] and concluded in a tomb [16:6].

Prayer by prayer, the story of the beginning of good news shifts forward and calls for a revisiting and applying. The first testing in the desert sets the rest in motion. When able to pray and thus retreat in the face of wilderness testing, either wild or ordinary, life is full.

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