The Other Side

The Other Side

Grace and peace to you from the Mystery in whom we live and move, and have our being. A woman healed.

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his cloak, I will be made well.’”

Mark 5:21-43

A woman healed

Whenever we go to the other side, we leave where we were. The Other Side can be a mystery. We are often led to the other side. No one can predict what will occur on the other side. It may be foreign to us or very familiar. In these moments we are faced with a decision to make. Do I embark on the journey of the unknown or do I stay where I feel safe? The other side was where the disciples who Jesus followers were to go. Perhaps Jesus, himself, was invited to go to the other side. They went as they were. I’m not sure what that meant but it sounds very spontaneous. Something had to be very intriguing for them to want to go to the other side.

Richard Rohr writes, “Mystics have plumbed the depths of suffering and love and emerged with depths of compassion for the world, and a learned capacity to recognize God within themselves, in others, and in all things. If we can read the mystics a with an attitude of simple mindfulness, the insights and practices they share can equip us with a deep and embracing peace, even in the presence of the many kinds of limitations and suffering that life offers us. From such contact with the deep rivers of grace, we can live our lives from a place of nonjudgment, forgiveness, love, and a quiet contentment with the ordinariness of our lives—knowing now that it is not ordinary at all!”

The mystic goes to the other side and leaves ego behind but most importantly, drops title, status and pride in the time of great need. When we leave ego behind we shamelessly reach to touch the cloak of compassion and leave our illusions of pomposity on the shore. Jesus’s followers must have been compelled by Jesus the Mystic. When Jesus healed the blind, they probably saw life differently than those who experienced a lifetime with sight.

Invitation to the Other Side

When one is invited deep within oneself to go to the other side, it isn’t a journey to an extraordinary life. It is an awakening to the beauty of an ordinary life with extraordinary eyes of body and heart.

The invitation to go to the other side is a call to the thirsty. It is the symbol of a desert experience. We usually travel through the desert to get to the other side. We are guided in the thirsty transitions by the Spirit in the Desert.

Jesus invited others to get in the boat and go to the other side. What awaited Jesus were crowds full of curiosity. Among them were two people that would not let the crowd be an obstacle to their goal. The disciples were the audience, viewing life on the other side of humanity. In this story, the desperate ruler of the synagogue was called away from the shore of self-reliance and social status to openly beg for Jesus’s help. The ego of status was dwarfed by his love for his 12-year-old daughter.

The ailing woman broke free of the physicians’ painful, seemingly futile efforts and reached for the other side. She reached beyond her hopelessness and into the depths of love and compassion. Jesus, embodying God’s compassion, felt the power leave him, and she felt it, too.

Where the power resides

The ruler must have faced great opposition in his desire to touch the master, and ask for help. But lowering oneself to the fringes where Jesus is, is where the most power resides. What drives the power of transformation?

Saint Augustine once said, “The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, and third through humility.”

Saint Augustine

I believe there are only two things which will draw us into transformative spiritual growth: desperation, and a personal moment of clarity; an acknowledgement of powerlessness met with humility. These awakenings inspire a choice for humility. It is, I believe, the only thing that will heal our country. Debate leads to demise. Humility leads us to a new way.

For both the woman, and for the ruler of the synagogue, it was desperation that brought them to humility. I suspect this is true for most people, unless they would prefer to die in their pride.

Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water, on spirituality and the twelve steps, quotes English poet W.H. Auden as saying, “We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”

What a powerful act of faith to fight through the crowds of onlookers and shamelessly touch the cloak of compassion!

Healing is within reach

For the humble who are willing to lose face, those willing to distance themselves from the need to be right, the need to be in control and the need to be enough, healing is within reach. The most important healings: intimacy, strength, joy, transformation, and a movement to the other side. The Other Side is where a community with fellow pilgrims resides. Those who we relegated to another shore due to status, race, physical and mental challenges, immigrant status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification and politics, etc.

Perhaps we all are suffering from a cultural blood disease that is beyond a physician’s, politician’s and priest’s practice toward the perceived unclean. Perhaps it’s those who need to act with humility and reach for the cloak of their fraught condition who are on our shore wielding their power differently than Jesus did… those who cannot feel the gentle tugs on their three-piece suits and Abercrombie jeans. Perhaps it’s the politicians, preachers and CEOs ruling from a place of pomposity. Where are those who show humility and a willingness to crawl through the crowds to touch the cloak of compassion? Where are those who have been complicit, or downright obstacles, to those who want to get in the boat and leave their shores of illusions?


Humility guides us to the other side. It moves us to the other side of our perceived realities and numbed psyches.

If we were to travel to the other side, we would find daughters in pain, suffering from “physicians” who abide by the laws toward the designated unclean… those who have no cure and who are emotionally bleeding out… those who wait for someone walking by who has the compassion and authority to meet them on the other side. To feel the pain when humility draws them to reach boldly through the gawking crowds, who are curious, but have no engagement with Spirit.

The one who reaches out to God with awkward and unabashed abandon will experience power that both person and God feel intimately. Jesus says, “My daughter, you are healed.” He would usually address those he spoke to, those living in the margins as “Woman,” a greeting of respect and honor. He addresses this woman as “daughter”! He met her suffering with the compassion of a father. He embodied the father who in his faith, sought out Jesus to heal his daughter. Maybe we should see each other as the precious sons and daughters of God.

We see many sons and daughters on our life journey who are in pain. Will their cries and protests be debated like a crowd of opinionated onlookers, or will we choose to be touched? Will our attention to the outside world be in tune enough to feel the power leave us, to feel engaged and compassionate? Will we be personal advocates or opinionated obstacles?

Power awaits on the other side

What I’m seeing in these stories is the power that awaits on the Other Side. How humility-led engagement with Spirit causes awareness. It’s not just to the hurting brothers, sisters, daughters and sons in the world who touch us, it is an amplified awareness of beauty and awe.

Finally, it appears the dips and dives on the journey to deeper listening, more meaningful connections, inner healing and a life of fulfillment, are worth the humility it takes to reach unabashedly for the hem, cloak and fringes of Spirit. Whether guided by desperation or led by a deep desire, the power of humility flows and is felt mutually by us and by God.


Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint by Henry Rojas, spiritual director at Spirit in the Desert.

Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud.


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