Mark 13:35

Therefore watch, for you cannot be sure when the Master of the house is coming – whether in the evening, at midnight, at daybreak, or in the morning –

sleep deprivation
is excellent torture
activated awareness
disorients routine
instructive and destructive
paranoia confuses

a rooster announces betrayal
lauds breaks matins
visionary dreams of glass slippers
shatter and scatter
before practical prime
can make a to-do list

are we on a cross
or cross we’re not
a last temptation
a first opportunity
drift and float together
before a welcome home

It sounds as if there is an important relationship that still obtains even when the partners are apart. There is work that goes on to benefit both even when apart. There is an expectation of a next gathering that has a sense of joy in it.

This looking ahead to a return is the yearning found in The Song of Songs and every pair of young lovers. There is even the relaxed gaze of surety of seasoned lovers. This is enough to keep us alert to memories, living on behalf of, and expectations of better days worth our current expenditure of time and resources.

After this brief foray into joy we remember that the context of this short parable is in an exploration of the end of time while still in the midst of disaster. The someone who has gone away may well be, for Mark and his community, the loss of the Temple. Where we meet another can come to stand for the other. And now they are gone. What is there to do but stand beside the door and keep watch. No matter our day job, our vocation is to watch. In that watching we remember that this story interacts with the earlier one told to the chief priests, scribes, and elders about a vineyard and an absent landowner (12:1–11).

The watching for a return is not simply going to be a restoration of the old, but a new “building” with a new “cornerstone” that may not look much like the former partnership. Having been away, we are both changed and this new occasion requires new avenues of connection. As we moved from Garden to Temple we are now moving toward a different Garden enfolding a fruitful fig tree.

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