Mark 9:21

“How long has he been like this?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.


son’s father and Father’s Son
both want to know
how long have we been so ill

has it been forever
perhaps not long enough
to resolve on its own

if it has gone on forever
insurance limits passed
it is time to finally pass on

what sort of treatment
is still available
prayer experimental surrender

there is no time like the present
to assess our situation
to make a surprising choice


Having dealt with another child we might automatically add in here that this has been going on for 12 years.

It could be said that this was the child’s “life story” (LaVerdiere-250). A life story begs to be seen in a larger setting. What had been going on before they were born? What were the factors that helped bring this life into such clear focus? Did they go beyond a person to family and culture?

Presumably the parent had been as diligent as the bleeding woman in 5:26 and had also become both resigned to fate and ever more desperate to find a way clear of this pain.

Such an accumulation of years, indicating there is no use to find a change to an intolerable situation, still has a deep reservoir within—hope yet abides, even when, in every measurable way, we have given up. The question of what can be trusted is one that never goes away. Sometimes we are up to facing it down and sometimes our strength (even a strength that comes with “lovers gathered around”—listen to Pete Seeger’s song, “Old Devil Time”) is not sufficient to hear the slow grinding of the universe toward mercy and joy.

“Since forever” is such a long-felt time. There is a trap here that avoids a needed metanoia or repentance or change. We get caught so easily in four of the five options listed by Transactional Analysis as responses to difficulties: 1) stay stuck, 2) go crazy, 3) kill someone, 4) commit suicide, or 5) get better.

In every generation there are reasons aplenty to be silent about internal and communal processes that harm a spirit of seed-like growth with one poison or another. We give into the easy assessment of one or another false “original sin” that silences persistent hope.

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