I am constantly amazed at the richness of the Bible and how it is so often trans-cultural and timeless in its spiritual message. The New Testament written 2000 years ago still speaks today in many ways.
Here is the scripture from Luke 8: 40-49 (NIV) Verde (Ashland/Huntington Contemplation Group) used for our last session in an Ignatian technique called Application of the Senses:
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Several different people read the Scripture out loud. It is surprising the way a person reads can effect what one notices. After the reading, there is a 20 minute time of silence where each person tries to vividly imagine actually being in this scene as one of the people–one tries to notice smells, sounds, feelings, and so on. Each person journals their experience, and then there is an opportunity for those who wish to share their experience and insights, while the others listen silently and deeply without interrupting.
There were so many things I–even though I am not very visual– noticed and received from the group:
The woman touches Jesus’ robe: we must let go of fear and trust the healing power of God.
Jesus asks who touched him, even though Peter is trying to move him along: many people are pressing against him, he is called to help a little girl who is dying, and yet he does not immediately rush along. He stands his ground, not subject to the expectations of anyone else. He takes care of the immediate needs within the moment. In Buddhist terms, he is mindful and fully conscious.
Twelve years is a parallel between the dying girl and the woman who’d been bleeding: both are females in a culture where they are rendered invisible, and yet there is love from the father of the little girl, and also from Jesus whose presence has healed the woman, and who is (in a subsequent scripture) going to restore the little girl’s life. This might well be applied to the women of today who are rendered invisible economically, culturally, and intellectually–and are in essence “bleeding.” Women are important. They will be restored to community as equals.
For me personally, I have been poignantly aware of the need to stand my ground and not give into insecurity, vacillation, and self-doubt but to trust the process of the strengthening wisdom of Christ through scripture and from people around me. As one member of Verde said–this Scripture was about More Life!