Beside Himself

by Paul Hooker

Mark 3:20-35

He was beside himself. That’s being kind;
the scribes called him demonic, blasphemous,
the sycophantic crowd was wonderstruck,
but to us it was clear he had just
lost his mind.

He was beside himself. It’s what we dreaded—
this apocalyptic proclamation
this all-too-public defamation—
given the mental state he’s in
who knows where he is headed?

He was inside the house. We heard him say
the strong man’s hold has no defense,
one sin is without recompense—
what further need of evidence
had we to find him fey?

He was inside the house, and we were not;
that was the problem in a nutshell;
the walls weren’t thick, but a well
built wall is stronger than hell,
can keep you in—or out.

They were beside him. They and not we
who were family, who would claim him
and in our solicitude tame him
and if not, then shame them
for being what we could not be.

They were beside him. We stood apart.
Their circle met his inspection,
their obedience his question;
they offered no rejection of
the Spirit in his heart.

They were beside him. Suddenly it was plain:
will he not transgress the respectable
and sit at the less appropriate table
and speak his truth in harder parable
and lead us to a cross again?

We should have been beside him. We are his family.
Do we not say his prayer to bring
the kingdom in? Of what king
do we imagine we might be talking,
or when? We were his family.

We were