Backing Through a Door
Today, I’m carrying on from parables to examine miracles, again with a nod to Zen attitudes—this is the story in Mark about the storm on the lake, when the disciples had to wake Jesus because he was sleeping right through all the wind and rain.
I kept thinking in terms of “nots”.
I don’t believe the story is intended to be literal, or metaphorical, or allegorical, or even symbolic. I think the sense of it might be imagined as “backing through a door.”
Here are some words that might connect with our understanding of the story in a pragmatic, non-theoretical way:
o I invented this word, then looked it up afterward. It’s not in the dictionary, but it is in current use in the context of international diplomacy. (From an article in Public Diplomacy Magazine: “The conduct of relations….in which there is a reasonable expectation of systematic relationships, involving some form of reporting, communication, negotiation, and representation, but not involving mutual recognition as sovereign, equivalent entities.” It reminds me of a word that the author Maggie Ross uses quite often— “Polyvalent.”)
o As opposed to ‘metaphorical’, in that ‘metaphor’ is relative to the meaning of language, and ‘metaphrastic’ is relative to the function of words and phrases within language.
It occurred to me that the important thing is to read the Bible in a relational context. A context that involves “reporting, communication, negotiation, and representation, but does not involve mutual recognition as sovereign, equivalent entities.”
To play with an extended not-metaphor, lets experiment with encountering the Bible as an entity which engages in reporting, communication, negotiation, and representation; all of which are activities that lead to some sort of mutual recognition, just not recognition as sovereign, equivalent entities.
If you are shaking your head at this point, and starting to get a headache, let’s change the parameters.
When it comes to the accounts of miracles, don’t rush to read them as if you already know the end of the story. When I read today’s story, what reached out its hand to me were the phrases, “They took him just as he was” and “Who can this be?”
The story itself ‘took me just as I was’, and asked me that very same question— “Who can this be?” I’m not going to tell you what my answer was, or if I even answered at all.
Let the Bible read you.
Open yourself to it
as if you are a well-loved storybook
with dog-eared pages and sticky stuff on the color plates.
Give it time to look at the pictures;
turn the pages when it pleases;
fold down the corners at its favorite places.
Accept its nomination.
Negotiate with it
as mutual envoys; ambassadors; attachés
of far away lands with unusual and interesting customs.
Let it draw its own inferences from you;
make its own motions after it’s ready;
recognize you when it’s time to hear your report.
Agree to its terms; stand and deliver—
Give it everything you own, if that’s what it wants.
Take whatever it offers, if that’s what you want.