Mid-February, I was tucked away at the beach – reading, walking, writing – when the scene of Jesus healing the sick in the marketplaces of Gennesaret again caught my eye. As a caregiver, and as one who experiences brokenness, this scene intrigues me. Four brief verses of scripture, but so many perspectives. Upon the advice of my writing friends (a beautiful gathering of wise, faith-filled women), I have been practicing poetry. There at the sea, not unlike Galilee, an idea sprang to life. 30 poems for 30 days – I can do poetry month!
During those first hours of scribbled thoughts, I did not realize, at least consciously, how fraught with anxiety our sense of community and global health would immediately become. Nor do I want to ‘capitalize’ on the moment, rather be taught by it. So here, in words, we search, if not for a microbial cure, then space for our hearts and minds to breathe.
These poems are an invitation to reflect, to create, to ponder various perspectives, to pray. Reflection opens up teachable space, allowing us to sift through our anxieties and fears, our unanswered questions. I am convinced that we continually form and reform our beliefs about suffering, whether we register them as ‘theology’ or not. Throughout life, we pace the ground of hope and healing for individual lives, or that of community, It is our privilege to tread carefully toward nurture, or unaware, trample that which might sustain life. 30 days in Gennesaret is an invitation to be intentional in reflection. For this project, I have used as prompt the passages in the Bible from Mark 6:53-56 and Matthew 14:34-36.
When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever he entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.
If you would like to submit/share an original creative piece (poem, painting please, etc) to participate in this project, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you!
…and Offering: almost ALL of us are caregivers in one form or another. I have been a mother, a physical therapist, a hospice worker, a good-intentioned but less-skilled listener, a neighbor, a special needs parent, a meal-maker, a daughter (my Mom does 3/4ths of the work), a wife, a friend. In what ways have you been a caregiver for the ‘sick’ in the territories of your life? When have you, yourself, been sick and reaching? All of these inform our observation, and our offerings of hope and perspective to one another. Not to mention what we offer back to God as belief.
As we approach Gennesaret, we are with the disciples, in a boat; it’s storming. We recently felt the death of John the baptist. Before climbing into the boat we observed the feeding of the 5000, that one small lunch… And frightening moments ago we pondered what it is to walk on water. The disciples’ conclusion as Jesus steps into the boat and the wind ceases, is to worship him, “Truly you are the Son of God.” I’d like to complete this intro then, with a prayer, taken from my journal. It is what I hope my heart will remain, as we explore the marketplaces of Gennesaret together.
A Follower’s Prayer
Father God, may my thoughts be so characterized by you:
that the psalm is on my lips in tandem with the questions
that the voice of fear is stilled to righteous caution
and the perverse seed of bitter entitlement is bled by informed compassion.
You, oh Lord, know my frame; its weakness and strength.
May that strength ever be, the wonder of who you are.
“Matthew 14:22 (NIV) – Immediately Jesus made the disciples.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 1 Apr, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mat/14/22/p1/s_943022.