Mark 6:33

Many people saw them going, and recognized them, and from all the towns they flocked together to the place on foot, and got there before them.

leaving on a slow sailboat
when people can see
more than half-way
to another shore
reduces the options
for a surprise arrival

in the face of a felt need
rest and renewal are rebuffed
by our becalmed ruach
we see a growing crowd
tracking our slow progress
frustration takes our words

first retreat delayed
second retreat denied
third xtreme unfairness
fourth agitated muttering
fifth anxious snacking
sixth arrive empty

There are paparazzi and their informants everywhere. If someone has a modicum of celebrity or notoriety about them, their movements are noticed. Jesus has been noticed by Tetrarch Herod and the religious leadership. As wily and wilderness oriented as Jesus is, he keeps getting noticed—after all you can’t fulfill a task of changing hearts and behaviors in a vacuum.

It is not at all surprising that a move toward retreat is noticed. Nothing sells like a picture of a public figure in a skimpy bathing suit. And, secondarily, what better time to ambush a healer for a little personal attention?

Of more interest is Mark’s singular use of the little word “ran” (συντρέχω, syntrechō). It comes from two words that means “run together”. Syn is a primary preposition denoting unity and trechō is a primary verb used to describe the haste involved in a race. Trechō has two other characteristics. First, it can be used metaphorically when there is a peril that requires a focused exertion to deal with it. The human condition is perilous and a running together is needed. Second, trechō can use dremo as an alternative or synonym, meaning the course/career on which life together is run. And so, some number of people run to a place and gather together in anticipation of Jesus’ presence. Sounds like our ideal of Church without various factions battling over a word in the creed or how various teachings can be fruitfully applied in different situations.

Simply running together can transform a competition into a journey as we shift gears from top speed to a conversational gait and refocus personal goals within a larger vision of common good. Running together is a spiritual discipline.

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