Mark 8:8

The people had sufficient to eat, and they picked up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left.

seven times seven or seventy
pulls forgiveness into view
multiplies mercy for thousands
sets a stage for journeying

we take
we chew
we digest
we live

seven loaves of bread
augmented by seven fish
dance a blessing way
into baskets of friendship starter

we live
we chew
we digest
we give

How would the reader’s experience be changed if, instead of reading about “leftovers”, what was collected was περίσσευμα (perisseuma) or “that which abounds”, “which is in excess”.

A super-abundance has a different weight to it than a leftover.

Similarly, eating until “full” brings images of Thanksgiving excess were belts are loosened and a nap is in the offing. Here again, an option is available to have the crowd eat (be healed) until they were “satisfied”.

More can always be stuffed in. Today we call it over-consumption. This is different than having eaten enough.

Admittedly this is a retrojection into the story as there weren’t factory farms supplying international transportation of foodstuff to a grocery near you. Admittedly, also, are the multitudes of “food deserts” among the poor of today, like the poor of yester-century, that would still appreciate a moment of fullness over an experience of never having been satisfied.

Perhaps we are to only appreciate that the miracle of building community through feasts is repeatable. If these feeding stories can be Mark’s version of the prayer Jesus taught the Twelve, might they also serve as a tangible model of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount and Luke’s Sermon on the Plain? To be able to bless G*D for food or add a blessing to already blessed food, is to have a foretaste of the rest of the beatitudes or blessings.

A thought experiment: Consider that the bottom line of life is that of being cared for, a beloved, one swimming in abundance. After every gain or loss, every curing or healing or sickness or death, there is a settling of accounts weighted toward mercy. Would you rejoice to carry many baskets of abundance to scatter as you may?

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