Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Desolate Places

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46

Yesterday was a dreary, muggy day. I set out by car to go swim laps in preparation for the swim I am doing. I was feeling rather out of sorts on an out of sorts kind of day. As I was driving up the parkway I was almost driven off the road by a man who wasn't paying attention. I had to beep my horn to get his attention. As I pulled into the pool parking lot, I realized the same car was following me. And then, it turned out that the careless driver was the life guard. It seemed like the weird kind of day was just getting a little more weird. I swam my laps and as I got out of the pool, the life guard started a conversation with me, having noticed the scars on my back from surgery. He was kind and concerned, and told me how impressed he was that I kept up swimming and was doing so well. The careless, attention-less, desolate weird place, suddenly became a place of life and possibility.

The disciples had been sent out and were returning, exhausted, seeking rest and quiet. Instead the crowds came and drove them off course. At the end of the day there was nothing to eat and a hungry, desperate crowd in a desolate place. And yet, there was life and possibility, full bellies and refreshment for them all. God's gift and activity is to bring us fullness and possibility even in the most desolate of places, in the weirdest and seemingly awkward moments in life.

Today I want to live with the expectancy and faithfulness of the crowd who came to listen to Jesus and with the generosity of the little by. One shared lunch and some cooperation can change the world. May we all live so that fullness can be found for all in the most desolate places and in desolate times.

No comments: