Mark 9:22

“From his childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire and into water to put an end to his life; but, if you can possibly do anything, take pity on us, and help us!”


show us compassion
without control
a universal cry
a pleading S.O.S.

always presuming
there is a way beyond
our current no-way
we look for help beyond

beyond our knowledge
beyond our limits
beyond our understanding
beyond our vision

from an acceptance of good fortune
we experience dismay and depression
sharpening bargaining skills and anger
until we can no longer deny injury

compassion grants no greater knowledge
of what we do and do not understand
compassion rattles vision’s cave
leading to a larger assurance


Fairy tales have a typical pattern of threes before a resolution can be reached. This is our third recounting of the situation at hand—thrown about.

First the setup—“If”— and its desired outcome—“Help!”

This is a reprise of a voice crying in the wilderness looking for some wild blue yonder alternative universe where all tears are wiped away and angels sing in heaven all the day. “If” is a song of silence lost in possibility without a look around for the smallest probability.

The help needed goes beyond what is ordinarily available. Aid must come from the outside.

Second, a deeper travel into the wilderness brings more than food brought to a discouraged prophet running starved from a great nothingness hot on their heels. It is not just “help” that is petitioned against all odds, but a σπλαγχνισθείς (splagchnistheis, an imperative to go bowel deep to the creative mode of compassion—partnered empathy).

This compassion is an awakening in one another and all creation of our own compassion. Having accustomed ourselves to a life-long situation out of our control, we turn, even our children, into their condition. To return to compassion is the journey of places like L’Arche where those who are silenced are engaged at the level of compassion. It is the story of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

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