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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection
The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
Peace on each one who comes in need;
Peace on each one who comes in joy.
Peace on each one who offers prayers;
Peace on each one who offers song.
Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,
Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.
Almighty God, give us such a vision of your purpose and such an assurance of your love and power, that we may ever hold fast the hope which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Gospel Mark 1:29-39
After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Poem: Selections from “Eighteen Ways of Looking at Cancer”
by Eleanor, Louise, Lydia, Nell, Rosetta and Sandra
I love my mother, my brother and my grandmother
But I’m not ready to go and be with them yet
What about my three children?
A lot of people think, “Why me?”
I never did go through, “Why me?”
I felt like a marionette
My strings being pulled in every direction
They want me to have this scan, and this test,
And this bloodwork.
Where do you want me now?
Lost in this never-ending struggle or tunnel
The struggle is the tunnel
On and on
What’s a good night’s sleep?
Waking up exhausted
The lack of energy is indescribable
Other people’s insensitivities:
“We’re not talking about cancer.”
Other people’s kindnesses:
A bag of tomatoes
A rotisserie chicken.
Today’s poem comes from a writing and healing workshop at Cancer Services in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the selections give us a counterpart to today’s Gospel reading, focusing not on the healer, but on the healed. These selections also remind us about how the miracle of healing works in the real world: a combination of scientific invention, experiments, human kindness, painful side effects, existential anguish, and the ongoing need for the basics: sleep, nutrition, and hope. We all can be – we all are – part of Jesus’s miracle of healing, and like the body of Christ, we are each uniquely equipped to be part of that process.
Questions for Reflection:
- For more of the ‘eighteen ways’ of looking at illness, see https://writingandhealing.org/2007/02/04/eighteen_ways_o
- What would you add to this kaleidoscope of the very real human experience of suffering and healing?
- In moments when you have asked, “Why me?”, how has your faith helped you answer the question? What doubts and questions remain?
- In the space between ‘other people’s insensitivities’ and ‘other people’s kindness’, there is a lot of room for indifference, apathy, and what we might call ‘sins of omission.’ What has helped you both acknowledgethe kindness of others, as well as tap into your own kindness?
- How are you best equipped to help the work of Jesus in the world?
We bring to God a troubled situation in our world
We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust
We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection
We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives
We name before God those who have died.
Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen
Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.
May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen
Poem selection and meditations by Matt Bentley