There were two storms,
and Jesus calmed the winds and waves both times.
Maybe there were five or seven storms,
or even twenty — we don’t know,
but we know that Mark told two stories
and the others followed him.
In one story Jesus is in the boat,
lying asleep below,
when the disciples wake him, terrified,
and he stills the storm,
while in the other story they are alone,
and Jesus sees them struggling
and walks across the water.
They fear the stranger as much the deep,
but he climbs into their boat,
and the winds die down.
Mark looked down the years
at people like me
and knew I need both stories..
You see, people dear to me go out
into the storms of life –
the heartbreak, cancer, loneliness, loss –
and they have Jesus
in their boats.
They may complain that he sleeps,
and shake him wildly,
and the “peace be still” that comes
may challenge their faith
as much as the greatest wind,
but Jesus never leaves them alone.
But there are also people,
just as dear to me,
who lift anchor and sail alone,
choosing to strain lonely at the oars
against every wind,
all the night long.
And I believe that Jesus
knows their courage and their danger, too,
and walks across the waves to them,
and gets in the boat with them,
saying – you don’t have to recognize me,
but take heart.
And when the wind lets up,
they may not even then understand.
JESUS MAFA is a response to the New Testament readings from the Lectionary by a Christian community in Cameroon, Africa. Each of the readings were selected and adapted to dramatic interpretation by the community members. Photographs of their interpretations were made, and these were then transcribed to paintings. Taken from Art in the Christian Tradition, Vanderbilt Divinity School Library.