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Wasteland


Mark 4:1-20

(My transliteration from the Mounce Greek Interlinear)

and saying— “at the very same time, you have been entrusted with the mystery of the realm of God, but to those outside everything appears as something to be compared with something else;

‘so that they see but don’t see, and they hear, but don’t hear with wisdom— otherwise they might turn back and be released.’” (or ‘turn back and let themselves relax.’)



Jesus is quoting Isaiah 6:9–10 “‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand. You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’” (CJB) or “Go and say to people, ‘You hear—but you hear without making sense of it! You see— but you see without noticing!’ Glut their hearts, weigh down their ears, narrow their eyes— just in case their eyes should see; ears hear; hearts understand; and they should turn back to be healed.” (My transliteration from the Hebrew Interlinear.)

In the very next verse, Isaiah says, “My God, How Long?” and God tells him until all is a waste and an utter desolation.

In Zen terms, this could be considered a ‘comparison’ (Greek - parabole) with the practice of observing our lack of understanding, without trying to understand— a recommendation that we simply allow our hearts to be full to bursting; our ears to be battered and ringing; our eyes to be squinting and burning— and just carry on, even until everything is a waste and an utter desolation.

It’s a kind of absolute consent; an emptying of self; a willingness to endure without complaint from a standpoint of trust.

I’ve been pondering for over a week now on a terrible disappointment that I suffered a little while ago. I haven’t been able to figure out how to encompass it. I am now questioning everything about it— what it means, my understanding of what it means; what I heard, my understanding of what I heard. I keep catching myself extrapolating meaning from emotions; working backwards from what I felt and trying to find some solid significance that might support some course of action. Every time I catch myself doing that, though, it doesn’t feel right. None of my possible choices feel connected to reality, only to my own notions. I guess I'm too used to considering all of my opinions as provisional, and all my ideas as incomplete.

There is one thing that rang true though. A phrase kept popping into my head: “For God alone.” It’s in Psalm 62, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Also, in my version of Psalm 88 “But it’s always you that I’m begging, no-one else; every morning my prayer goes ahead of you.” I’m also thinking about yesterday’s post with my Christian version of Dayenu: “You are what you are—that’s enough for us.”

I hesitate to put this into words, but it seems a useful exercise, even if my words turn out to be entirely inadequate.



Hearing’s hinky, seeing’s shifty, and hearts are heavy-duty.

No trusting them!

Friends flabbergast, notions niggle, and every mind meanders.

Who notices?

Hope’s a hammer, pain’s a partner, and nothing counts for naught.

Going in or going out—

All’s nothing, nothing All, and God‘s still waiting in the wasteland.

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