“Why? Why do I have to make daily journal entries?” he complained again. “I don’t like to do it; I’ve never liked to do it. I don’t see how it does my any good.”
“So, why don’t you go ask the master, instead of complaining to us?” Jeremy said to Marcus. “The master is the one who gave us the discipline. Our job is to just lovingly hear one another’s confession. And you complain, more than confess, about this part of the master’s prescription every time we gather. Of course, I only say that in love, you know.”
“Got it,” Marcus replied, with obvious belief in Jeremy’s sincerity. “And, you know, maybe I should. Maybe I should go ask the master why I need to do this. I really don’t see the point of it. Not at all. Not at all.”
So later in the week, when Marcus had his monthly appointment with the master, he resolved that he would address the issue.
“Abba,” why do I need to keep a journal each day?”
“Why do you ask, my son,” queried the Master, who was famous for answering questions with another question.
“I know that you have given it to us as part of our spiritual discipline. But it is something with which I have always struggled. And, with all due respect, I don’t see the purpose of it for me. It may be good for the others, but I just don’t feel any good coming out of it.”
“You do it every day, and you find nothing good coming from it?” asked the Master.
“Oh, well … I don’t do it EVERY day. If I just understood why I was doing it, then maybe I’d do better about keeping the discipline,” answered Marcus, with complete sincerity.
“Oh. I see. Let me ask you: has it ever hurt you to do this?”
“No, my lord. It doesn’t hurt me.”
“Have you ever felt like your keeping of this discipline was harmful, in any way, to other beloved children of God?” repeated the questioning Abba.
“Well, of course not. It’s just that ….”
The Abba cut him off, gently, but firmly, “Do you not have faith in the one who gave you the discipline?”
Somewhat embarrassed now, Marcus tilted his head downward from their eye to eye contact, and somewhat mumbled, “Of course not, good father. It’s not that at all. It’s just that ….”
“It’s just that you feel like it’s not working for YOU ….”
This time Marcus unintentionally interrupted, “Exactly!”
The Master gently made Marcus’ interruption apparent, when he repeated and finished his prior statement: “It’s just hat you feel like it’s not working for YOU … simply because you can’t figure it out ahead of time, and because you haven’t felt the results yet.
“Let me tell you a story:
“Once upon a time (as all good stories begin, for they are timeless) my namesake Ananias was working for a rabbi in Jerusalem.
“Ananias was learning the way of Kabbalah from his master. He did whatever the master told him. At least, he tried to.
“But there was this one week, where Ananias’ master told him early in the morning to go outside and fill a large jug of water – 20 gallons full – and to walk into the street, turning right, and to carry it to the end of the street. Then he was supposed to set the jug down and rest. Then he was to pick up the jug and retrace it steps and beyond their house until he got to the market place, where the street ended. Then he was to put the jug down and rest again. He was instructed to repeat this pattern all day long, and then come back home in time for supper.
“Ananias did as his master directed. After midday, he began to wonder why he was doing this. He thought that perhaps he should be praying as he did his walking and carrying. And so he earnestly prayed as he walked and carried, for the next two hours. Then he thought that, instead of praying, maybe he should be paying attention to every detail in his journey up and down the street. He had been told by the master before that if he knew what was in front of his face, then what was hidden from him would be revealed unto him.
“But, by the end of the day, nothing had happened. The next morning, the master told Ananias to do the same thing again for the duration of that next day. And, again, he did as he was told. But ‘nothing’ happened. That evening, he asked his master why he was doing this.
“And his master asked Ananias, ‘Has it ever hurt you to do this?’ When Ananias replied, ‘No,’ his master asked him, ‘Have you ever felt like your keeping of this discipline was harmful, in any way, to other beloved children of God?’ Ananias replied, ‘Of course not.’ And then his master asked Ananias, ‘Do you not have faith in the one who gave you the discipline?’”
At this point, Marcus’ head, which had returned to eye level for his master’s story, felt his gaze began to wander downward again when he recognized these same three questions from just a few moments ago in their own conversation.
Abba continued: “So the master said to Ananias, ‘Well, I suggest you continue, then, just as you have been instructed, even again today. But, if you should encounter two men, and if they decide to follow you, listen to whatever they may ask of you. If, after they have followed you, these disciples ask where their Teacher may celebrate the Passover, then show them to our upper room, and do whatever they ask to assist them in their preparations.
“And, so it was. About mid-afternoon, Ananias encountered the two men who asked the question his master had predicted. And Ananias did as he was told. And later that night Ananias was the only one of his household who was invited to be a part of the Passover celebration in that upper room. And Ananias was included in the bread and the cup received by each person there from the very hands of Jesus.”
With that Marcus’ spiritual father said no more. Silence hung in the air for moments. Then:
“Yes, Abba. I will keep my journal. Thank you, Abba.”
© March 15, 2013
The foregoing is a “midrash” on Mark 14:12-16, in this continuing series of midrashes on the unnamed little people making cameo appearances in the Gospel of Mark. (For definition of midrash, please see January 14, 2103 blog: “An Unexpected Encounter with Jesus”)
Mark 14:12-16 The Man with a Jar of Water
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, ‘Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? ’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.