Mark 5:3

and who made his home in the tombs. No one had ever been able to secure him, even with a chain;

restraints are never a long-term solution
they deeply chafe the soul
adding torture outside to that inside
multiplying wilderness by wilderness
pitting strength against strength
blocking a flow of communal compassion
the very substance of we
drains faster than it can be filled
again and again the smoothest way
exaggerates the smallest of bumps

When we live by the chain we are threated by those who are able to break our chains.

The death which occurs to those who do the binding is worse than ironic, it is karmic.

The values by which chains are forged have been compromised by the promise of power and eternity. This “city set on a hill” will always shine. This is the appeal of “collective narcissism”. Being part of a bigger team that can impose its will on a lesser team, weaker citizen, denigrated human, gives evidence that we will always prevail. Of course this runs counter to the need to expend so much defending current privileges with ever lessening resources. Eventually these lines cross and it is time for the makers of chain to be in chains.

Because the consequences are delayed for those who first shave corners of communal values and, later, the closer those delayed consequences come the more they are dismissed as inconceivable, course correction is always decades too late.

As grass will come up through cement, so chains will be broken.

The more a G*D (by any name) is empowered above all and promises of Heaven (by any name) are touted, the more a religion (by any name) or nation (by any name) or in-group (by any name) defines itself by not being a loser like (any scapegoat name here)—the more the grave to which others are sent will erupt.

While collective healing eventuates in individual healing, it is a most difficult and misunderstood route to travel. However the truth of the other way around, individual healing leading to collective healing, has even less to stand on.

There is more at play here than individual madness. This is a critical event revealing the military/economic/religious trinity that so disadvantages those deemed expendable by those trying for an expansion of their resources to provide an extension of power and ease.

Reducing people to nothings brings uncontrollable rage.

Mark 5:2

and, as soon as Jesus had got out of the boat, he met a man coming out of the tombs, who was under the power of a foul spirit,

zombie attacks are all the rage
whichever way we turn tombs
vomit forth those dead to me
pushed in my face
unavoidable as suffering

intaken and held breath
focuses our reptilian brain
like calls to like
will we lose our brain
will they gain Paradise Rest

all too soon a confrontation
at best we are down sixty forty
if we pit strength against strength
so we simply stand loose
and shake out compassion

with nothing to go on but integrity
expectations are slowly released
a surprising smile comes unbidden
as we envision our own clean tomb
and offer a bottle of Pine-Sol®

Much takes place in boats. Begin to vision earth as a boat sailing among the stars.

The church has seen itself as a boat on but not of the world.

Boats have been places of refuge (Noah and his Ark), of calling, of teaching, and of going to another side. To remain in a boat provides some degree of separation from “chaos”. To leave such boats is to enter into a dangerous world of creation and all the variety that entails.

Sure enough, leave a boat and we have to deal with more than our own internals; we are face-to-face with more than can be reasonably dealt with.

On shore we find ourselves between a devil and a sea—either deep wilderness or exactly the place to learn from wilderness.

It is on a shore—wherever separations, divisions, and their accompanying fears are found—that we find that liminal space where mystics can never say more than they know, only less. In that less we are faced with choices along a continuum from “follow” to “betray”.

When we simply set out for that greener pasture or the other side, we know there are going to be moments like this one. The not knowing works us up. Thankfully we are now out of the realm of every nasty option and facing the one before us. This we can deal with from our practice of compassion, mercy, and reservoir of belovedness. We may even transform it into a Parable or Paradise.

Mark 5:1

They came to the other side of the sea – the region of the Gerasenes;

happenstance or planning
offers an encounter
with very otherly anothers
otherwise quite avoidable

in either case a choice
offers itself about response
to accent smell fashion sense
since we’re used to our own

might beauty shine through
offering a point of contact
in an otherwise alien land
bearing all our fear of wilderness

it is here where we’re away
a gift of travel offers
its mirror to our usual soul
opportunity for guest hospitality

With various texts and spellings, it is difficult to pin the setting down to a general area. Pompey had taken this area in 63 BCE and it is a place of Roman strength. Retired army veterans have land given them. This is also a land that was an early adopter of Jesus’ Way sending participants to early councils such as those moved to Seleucia and Chalcedon.

This difficulty of location opens options of seeing this as a midrash on Exodus 23:28. Levine/Brettler note the Hebrew word “gerash” (expel) is used in some accounts of nations being driven out of their lands that the Israelites might take their place. Given the Roman presence, what follows is a deeply political commentary.

In addition to reading backward, we are able to compare the external occupation of the land by the Romans with a corresponding internal occupation of economic peonage to satisfy the privileges of a privileged class.

Myers asks his readers to:

Imagine our nation as a single living organism, with many parts. This organism bears the characteristics of the demon-possessed man (mightily self-destructive, out of control, isolated from community, living among the tombs, howling).

Myers continues by asking people to note the headlines all around them and to ask:

Are we as a people possessed? Who is crying out for deliverance? When the liberating power of God approaches, do they ‘beg the power of liberation to leave their neighborhood’ (5:17)?

How clear are you about present internal/external occupations?