by Katy McGrann (Mark 8:22-26)
I have a confession: the Gospel of Mark disconcerts me. It is so fast-paced, its language so concise, that I sometimes do a mental double take … Jesus went to this place or that, performed a miracle, told folks to forget about it, moved on … wait a minute. What? Performed a miracle?! What?
I have another confession: I am the only English major /wannabe writer I know who doesn’t keep a journal or even try to write regularly. I talk the talk, dream the dream, but don’t walk the walk or live the dream. What I DO do is write book titles. I have tons of them scribbled on scraps of deposit slips, post-it notes and worn sheets of college-ruled notebook paper.
Imagine my surprise when, after deciding to just open Mark and choose something at random to write for this blog, I discovered one of my book titles. Sort of. I wrote it over ten years ago when my children were much younger. It is “The Super Power of a Mother’s Spit.” Gross, right? I don’t remember what compelled me to write this down, but I’m sure it had something to do with my ability to clean a pacifier dropped on the playground or to lick my thumb and “wipe away” a boo-boo.
I thought about this because, in typically disconcerting fashion, the writer of Mark tells us that Jesus healed a blind man with spit (“saliva” if you’re feeling more genteel). Wait … what? Performed a miracle with spit?! What?
Truly, how typical of Jesus to turn expectorating into a holy and mystical act. Think about it: under normal circumstances, to spit in one’s face, literally or metaphorically, is to show disdain and disrespect in the extreme. But Jesus gives it powerful, healing properties. He takes a normal body function that most of us think is sort of nasty, and he sanctifies it.
Of course, spit only goes so far. In the Gospel reading, it started the healing process, but required follow-up, a more intimate human touch, as Jesus laid hands upon the blind man’s eyes a second time and “his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
For a mom like me, that touch involves swaying with the crying baby or hugging the child with the boo-boo. That kind of human touch, at its core, is designed to “make it all better.” When I think about this, I see with greater clarity the mystery and sanctity of the miracles that have happened and continue to happen in my everyday life.
Miracle performed, Jesus sends the man home. In my “mom’s eye” I can see the cool cloth coming out … it’s not time to go to town, it’s time to calm down, to rest … to contemplate the miracle, big or small, even the miracle of spit.