Mark 14:37

Then he came and found the three apostles asleep. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch for one hour?

heightened alert is wearing
each sound amplified
one suspicion welcoming another
until the only option
is crazy or sensory deprivation

in the end all sleep
unconscious even of dreams
no matter the danger
sleep will have its way

in the end all sleep
the most exciting partnership lost
to one’s own biorhythms

in the end all sleep
no command can counter this

in the end all sleep

The question about alertness contains a question about strength to do the task—ἴσχυσας (ischusas, strength/health/ability). Variants of this word have been used by Mark: 1) 2:17, when Jesus spoke of his presence not being for the healthy (including Peter and the other sleeping disciples?); 2) 5:4, as a descriptor of those whose strength was not able to control the Geresene; and 3) 9:18, noting the disciples not being up to the task of healing a convulsing boy.

Together, these four references put us in the unenviable position of being commanded to eternal wakefulness. Like Paul’s later admonishment to persist in prayer, wakefulness and prayer entail more than non-sleep or consciousness of praying. It is helpful to have a palin moment of our own and return to the comment in verse 13:33 and reflect again on the quote from Sabin.

We need to approach wakefulness in the same manner as a novice would meditate on a koan. What strength is available to us through independent agency and what is someone else’s action? Such reflection can assist the Reader in finding their part in a story of intersections caught between a valued past and an at least equally valued different future.

Reflection on the difference it makes to Jesus or Mark’s story for the disciples to keep their eyes open (other than loading the disciples then and now with guilt for not being “strong”) can keep us focused on the Wisdom issue of a larger frame.

In light of frames, Peter is here referred to by his pre-called name of Simon. That’s a serious calling out. It may be more reflective of Jesus’ state of being than Simon Peter’s.

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