When Healing Disrupts the Pigs
Kaleid’s summer theme is To Be Made Well, and all of our summer circles and emails are pointed in that direction. We’d be thrilled to have you for our two-part book club where we will read the book To Be Made Well, or we’d love to see you at one of our walks or at our July serving opportunity in Clarkston! Always feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions!
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Do you long for mental and spiritual healing for yourself or someone you love?
Mark 5 is a beautiful passage with three healing miracles, back-to-back. It comes on the heels of Jesus calming the storm as he passes to the “other side” of the lake. In the scripture, the “other side” carries symbolism. Jesus has passed from a Jewish area to the land of the Gerasenes, a majority Gentile place. Here, Jesus casts out demons (named Legion) from the man who lives among the tombs. The man is restored, “fully dressed and completely sane.” (v. 15)
Jesus saves the demon-bound, tomb-dwelling man from his barely human life…his naked wandering, uncontrollable raging, death celebrating, anguished howling, relentless cutting, violent and isolated life.
It is as if Jesus’ words to the wind and waves, “Peace! Be still!” echo in the deep places of the man’s tortured soul, so that it now mirrors what happened to the lake: “The wind settled down and there was a great calm.”
To be made well. The healing work of God is a mystery that can tame the expanse of nature and our hidden places of chaos, too.
If you want to stop reading here, feel free. Jesus welcomes you to remember his power to calm the human storm. To exorcise evil, to restore mental health, to put healing salve on the festering and infected wounds of a person’s very soul. This is, perhaps, enough for you today. If it is, we invite you to pause and open yourself to Jesus. Ask him to defeat the evil or dignify the soul that fills your heart’s circle of care today. He does hear. He does heal.
But there’s more. This is one of Jesus’ more epic stories. Epic because it involves 2,000 pigs jumping off a cliff and drowning in a lake.
Take a minute. That’s a serious splash. And a ton of noise and death and clean up and spectacle.
There were two stories being told that day on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. One was the story of a man restored to calm and community.
The other was the story of great loss and disruption.
The stories couldn’t be untangled.
“Those who tended the pigs ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. People came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to be demon-possessed. Those who had actually seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man told the others about the pigs. Then they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.” (14-17)
This is a lot of talking. By a lot of people. About a lot of drama.
Presumably these pigs represented the livelihood of many. And the food of many (they were Gentiles). And a system of supply and demand that was a well-oiled agrarian society machine.
Remember when the toilet paper wasn’t available? That was hard, and we all started thinking about what we might (ahem) use instead. Now it’s the baby formula. Food for the most vulnerable. This supply chain issue is a lot worse than the TP.
Imagine the disruption and loss of the pigs as a major market disruption.
Bottom line—It cost the people around the man for him to receive healing. It disrupted a system, an income structure, the reliability of access to something important, like food.
Here’s an interesting and worthy question that falls out from this story…
When Jesus’ kingdom comes, and when there is healing and salvation for the most vulnerable and tormented people in our community, what does it (potentially) cost those of us nearby? What does it do to disrupt our systems, our ways of life, our sense of dependability or predictability?
Jesus’ healing is deep and beautiful. It is also communal and disruptive.
Jesus went to the “other side.” He made a madman well. It disrupted a lot of life, a lot of lives. And so, people were afraid and asked Jesus to leave. He did.
It can be scary when Jesus makes things whole because it is almost always disruptive. We’ve all grown used to what “is” and making space for what is new means moving things around, sometimes radically so.
May we be women who are open to the both/and of this mysterious, wholeness-making work of God in the world.
We leave you with a Wendell Berry quote that invites us into the tension of considering how healing might be a communal work that requires us to be humble and gracious. To love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
We appreciate you!
The Kaleid Team
P.S. – Today is Ascension Day in the Church calendar! We are almost to Pentecost! This post by Christine Sine at Godspace offers poetry and art and reflective practices that you might enjoy.