Pentecost 8B, 2012
Mark 6:30-34

A Liturgy is also available


Kahlil Gibran’s meditation called ‘Speak to us of marriage’,
from his popular book, The Prophet, is much loved by folk
wishing to be married, and who are looking for a
reflection or reading that is not biblical.

I am sure you have heard it.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea
between the shores of your souls” (Gibran 1969).

Indeed, I reckon this particular meditation is as well known,
if not more so, than some biblical passages.  And good on it!

Further on in this meditation Gibran writes:
“Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music”.

Then towards the end:
“And stand together yet not too near together:
for the pillars of the temple stand apart,
and the oak tree and the cypress grow not
in each other’s shadow.

And because I like to re-jig his meditation a bit, I add/repeat:
“…let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you”.

All of us need ‘spaces’ - physically, emotionally, spirituality - in our busy lives.
And getting married is not a bad time to be reminded of this.


It is also salutary for all those involved in ministry, to recognise that,
according to storyteller Mark, Jesus was encouraging
of the disciples/others to desist,
to care for themselves, to reflect, and not to feel
they must respond to every ‘squeaky door’ or appeal for assistance.

They were not God.
They were not the saviours of the world.
They were limited human beings who needed space.
They needed time out so as to be able to continue on. To sort out what was important.

New Zealander Ian Cairns’ comment is another good reminder of this need:
“This brief passage… gives us a fleeting but appealing insight into the natural rhythm of the lifestyle of Jesus and the circle around him: times of intense effort are succeeded by moments of unwinding, and of quiet relaxation.  The fact that the intention on this occasion was frustrated, detracts nothing from the attractiveness of the ideal” (Cairns 2004:87).


Do you have a ‘space’ - a place of peace and rest in the “natural rhythm” (Cairns 2004: 87)
of your life, where you retreat for silence and re-creation?
So asks Bruce Epperly, co-author of The Call of the Spirit.
Let’s explore some of what Epperly says in his articles in the book
and on the Process and Faith web site.

Our so-called ‘space’ or ‘quiet place’ can be anywhere.

Since my retirement, I am re-discovering the joy and peace of walking
along the beach, on the sand, at waters edge.
Feeling the texture of both against the soles of my feet.
Even on a cool and cloudy, Central Coast winter’s day.

Epperly says other ‘space’ places could also include:
a favourite chair or study,
a meditation room in your home,
a park, or the bush, and yes, the seashore.
"The divine center is everywhere.  Wherever our adventure of ideas or geography take us, God is our adventurous companion" (Epperly 2005:79).

And in his web site article:
“Your quiet place can also be a rejuvenating activity – gardening, walking, stargazing, journaling, meditating, praying, writing poetry, or driving in your car by yourself.  Health of body, mind, spirit, and relationships requires stillness as well as action, space as well as intimacy.  Even the most intimate friends and couples require time alone” (Epperly P&F web site, 2006).

Many advisors call this ability to create ‘spaces’ in our lives, ‘boundary setting’.
Indeed Epperly suggests today’s gospel story is just about that.
“Jesus took time apart with his followers.  His ‘no’ to work, even the good work of healing and teaching, said ‘yes’ to spiritual growth and self-care.  His ‘yes’ to compassion was grounded in interconnectedness with God and his followers” (Epperly P&F web site, 2006).

There is an art and a discipline to finding ‘spaces’.
It also takes practice.

So Epperly offers some suggestions how we can create these ‘spaces’.
• Sabbath time.  Take a few hours a week, a day, a month, for silence, for retreat, for prayer.
• Breathing prayers.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.  Remembering God’s presentness, and centering in God’s companionship.
• Keeping meals sacred.  Install and use an answer phone.
• Cultivate intimate relationships.  Relationships take time and require leisure.
• Distinguish the important from the trivial.
• Learn to say ‘no’.


The storyteller Mark was clearly impressed
with what he was told about the beginnings of the Jesus movement.
Part of his story this morning describes in summary
what he saw was the impact of Jesus’ ministry.

For Mark, it seems the nature of the Jesus’ ministry was to offer leadership
in teaching, and in acts of compassion that brings healing
and sets people free from what oppresses them.

But this can be demanding work.
People get tired.
They need time out.
They are not God.
They are not the saviours of the world.
They are ordinary human beings who need ‘space’ to continue on.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, your living, your busyness.
Even your ‘good and helpful’ busyness.

So this morning Mark’s story is not about the so-called ‘biggies’...
such as feeding the 5,000, or walking on water,
or grain that produces at the rate of 100 times, for example.

What we get is an ‘OK’ for the very human need for ‘space’ in our lives.

So let us all learn to create ‘spaces’.
And let us all learn to use them well.
“…for the pillars of the temple stand apart,
and the oak tree and the cypress grow not
in each other’s shadow” (Gibran 1969).

Cairns, I. J. 2004.  Mark of a Non-realist. A Contemporary Reading of the Second Gospel. NZ: Masterton. Fraser Books.
Gibran, K. 1926/1969.  The Prophet. GtB: London. Heinemann.
Cobb, Jr, J. B.; B. G. Epperly, P. S. Nancarrow. 2005. The Call of the Spirit. Process Spirituality in a Relational World. CA: Claremont. P&F Press.