Mark 9:46

where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. (Omitted)


omitted in most editions
worms get double billing here
as does voracious fire

an ouroborosian juggernaut
of rolling destruction
fuel and fire crushing life

having lost touch with worms
we place our fears on them
glad for their sacrifice

as long as we create worms
we’re in like Flynn
their curse our blessing


Again with the worms!

It does take awhile to begin to shift either or both past and future into the constraints of a present moment. As these moments flit by we are constantly having to redraw lessons learned and clarify visions from a further horizon.

At some point there comes a recognition that all the different ways we are able to postpone our come-uppance contain the moral injury to ourselves of conscience of harm caused and good left undone. These continue the conscious or unconscious stress of self-justification.

The worms are internal. To live is to do so in a parasitic setting. We are host to many parasites, some helpful and some not. We are also parasitic to many, sometimes helpfully so and sometimes not. These various partnerships, with various levels of harm and help, can get universalized into strange concepts such as original sin that explain away our inability to escape their gravitational field and leave us fated to never escape WormLand. The specific “where” destination becomes universalized as “everywhere” we travel.

In a similar manner they can get excused away, by our seeing “all theys as the hand or foot that causes us to stumble and we would cut them off. Aren’t we much more prone to prescribing this for others than for ourselves who have extenuating circumstances and will, of course, follow through on our promise of the moment to do better?” (Wrestling Year B: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience, Wesley White227).

In the end we are left with a question of where such worms fit into “good news”. For the moment consider that this section and, later, chapter 13, are examples of being trapped in wilderness temptation that scares us away from traveling further into the wilderness to enter a retreat of sustaining hope and ever-widening grace from which we then return—more fruitfully partnered with the worms and ourselves.

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