When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. -Mark 5:21-43
I love the profound simplicity of this catacomb fresco. Here is the image as it appears in the woman’s memory: no pressing crowd to obscure her, surrounded by silence, the background washed away by insignificance, she reaches forth to touch and knows immediately that she’s healed. Here is a picture of the inside of prayer - intimacy magnified.
The meditation prompts this week draw the reader through a process of crying out and reaching for help (meditation one), touching and being touched by loving silence (meditation two), and then becoming the touch the world cries for (meditation three).
Meditation One (introit) reaching and touching
Give your weakness to one who helps.
Crying out loud and weeping are great resources. A nursing mother, all she does is wait to hear her child. Just a little beginning-whimper, and she’s there.
God created the child, that is, your wanting, so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.
Cry out!Don’t be stolid and silent with your pain.Lament! And let the milk of loving flow into you.
-Rumi 1207-1273 translated by Colman Barks from The Essential Rumi, excerpt from Cry Out in Your Weakness
Isolated and alone Woman of blood pours herself towards the fabric of life.
Dewdrop of hope slips down the thread to the woman with outstretched hands
When despair has obliterated ordinary prayer; when the psalms fail and all words are stupid and meaningless, the mantle of loneliness surrounding me becomes a mantle of dark and wordless love. This darkness reveals the paradox of prayer: in the absence of God, all there is, is God.
-Suzanne Guthrie Grace's Window
Jesus raises the daugher of Jairus: Chinese Bible painting (left) and an African Vie de Jesus Mafa (right). I found both these pictures on Christian websites. These may be copyrighted - if so, let me know and I'll take them down.
Healing Jairus' Daughter, From Petrus Comestor's Bible Historiale, 1372, France
Woman touching Jesus' hem, fresco, Catacomb ofSaints Peter and Marcellinus, 3rd century
Meditation Two (insight) a loving silence reaching and touching
Allowing the Silence to Find Us When an acute illness kidnaps you, the initial moments, hours, or days may be a blur.It may be very difficult, if not impossible, to concentrate long enough to listen to anything except the direct instructions of medical personnel.And the sheer shock of an acute event may leave you unable to listen.Yet somehow, many persons do manage to listen.They discover upon reflection that there has been a gift given, but perhaps not received. These persons have encountered a spiritual sense … (T)he practice of silencio is less a matter of a person directly willing the silence to happen than it is a matter of the silence greeting the person, either in the moment or at a later time of remembering.This type of spiritual listening requires waiting for the remembered silence to make itself known.It can’t be forced and it cannot be rushed.It comes as gift.
-Mary C. Earle Broken Body, Healing Spirit, Lectio Divina and Living with Illness
If you had not given me the grace during my nightly vigils to drink the stillness and to submerge myself in it, letting it pervade me through and through, how could I guard that inner stillness without which one can hear neither human beings nor you, O Lord? -Dom Helder Camara 1909-1999
Meditation Three (integration)
your own hands touching
Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
Compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours
-attributed to Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
-Mother Teresa 1910-1997
The Last Word
When I see them,
the children of my people,
the world without voice:
and, very often,
empty, left behind,
as if it were missing-
it is Christ whom I meet.
-Dom Helder Camara 1909-1999
Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Healing Within Healing
How is it that each time I am healed (and in the overall ongoing process of healing) a spiritual gift seems imminent? I don't believe that illness is “caused” by some defect in character or sin or is inflicted upon you for some message you're supposed to get. But I can't help noticing the spiritual component that comes with healing. Maybe because I'm trained to watch for the movement of the spirit I see grace mending the emotional chasm left by illness. Maybe it's because I consciously practice gratitude, which is like wearing a pair of corrective glasses (and not rose-colored ones, in case that's what you're thinking. Gratitude, a subtle and sometimes painful and exacting teacher, pries opens consciousness. Try it.)
But maybe I'm attuned to the gift that comes with healing because each time I've been healed I have received a gift, and the more horrible the trauma, the greater the gift. I'm almost afraid to write this, as if it is some dangerous, cosmic secret.
A woman holding her child for the first time after the horror of childbirth knows this cosmic secret. That pain brought forth this love.
The older woman with the hemorrhage is untouchable in her culture because of her flow of blood. The girl dies before she's fertile. The woman reaches for Jesus and is healed. Jesus touches the girl and wakes her from mortal sleep. Isolated by their illness, they are again joined with their loved ones. Jesus not only heals but restores the two women in the Gospel story to the ability to bring forth life.
A healing occurs within my healing. Creative and generative, I am my old self with new grace infused where pain once hollowed me out. Like that dangerous and cosmic secret, the crucifixion, that pain brought forth this love.
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: by the might of thy Spirit life us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God.