They came to Jericho. When Jesus was going out of the town with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.
we arrive footloose and fancy free
free to not claim a right of place
to claim a partner’s place
alongside additional liberators
having arrived ragtag and unnoticed
is not the same as inconsequential
is open to receiving new parts of life
decorating seeming nothingness
we leave slowed by new partners
each looking for a long-goodbye
before settling back to work
with renewed focus and energy
each long-goodbye opening new avenues
to saunter down in exploratory mode
finding here an unnoticed connection
a thanksgiving for ordinary moments
each goodbye opens eyes
we never knew we had it so good
and even better we hear new calls
in unexpected quarters
Jericho is a marker between wilderness wandering and claiming a new space. Here along the Jordan of baptismal fame we can remember back to 12 memorial stones set in the Jordan. Here is the ending parenthesis to the crossing of the Sea of Reeds that began an Exodus journey. Here was Rahab, a prostitute, and a crimson cord as a sign of protection—not unlike crimson blood upon the Hebrew doors in Egypt.
Long ago Jericho was conquered via a 7–day siege. On the seventh day there was no rest, but shouting and destruction, putting men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys to death by swords.
Here is a blind beggar. Where Mark usually leaves off names, he now names this one person twice—Bar-Timaeus (Son of Timaeus). This double name may be behind Matthew’s telling of this tale about 2 beggars.
Prostitute and beggar are more than their surface disjuncture from society. Jericho as an ending of an Exodus or the entrance into a final rising to Jerusalem shifts the story as much as a reversal of Babel can be seen in a Pentacostal moment. Jericho is a geographic hinge between then and now, a fearful wilderness and hopeful retreat.