Ginnel

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I’ve always been fascinated by these tiny alleyways, but not known that they had a special name. In Britain, where they are common, they are called ginnels. They are pathways between rowhouses. According to Wikipedia it is “A narrow passageway or alley often between terraced houses.”  They are known as this especially in Yorkshire and Lancashire. A terraced house is defined as one that shares both side walls with other houses, which is “typical of Victorian and Edwardian housing in English cities”. 

ginnel

To me, they look secret and mysterious. I’m not sure why I have such a fascination with empty spaces and absences. This is negative space, not positive.  It isn’t a destination, but a way to get to it.  But to me, it is intriguing as it is.

My Mom told me about playing in the one that was part of her building complex while she was growing up.  This was primarily when it rained.

ginnel-at-top-of-bell-street-large

They look forbidding and inviting all at the same time.  Do they lead to courtyards like this?

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From an image search, I found several that aren’t enclosed on the top.  I don’t know if those are still considered ginnels, or if they are just alleys.  To me, they need to be enclosed to fit my idea of them, but then again I just learned this word.

(All photos are copyright of their respective owners and are used for educational purposes.)

How to pray

“Be careful not to do good deeds or give charity publicly so you will be noticed. If you do, you will lose your reward from your Father in heaven. Whenever you give anything to a poor person, don’t call attention to the fact like hypocrites do. They announce it in houses of worship and on the streets to call attention to themselves. Truly, that attention is the only reward they will get! Instead, when you help someone out, do it secretly so not even your left hand knows what your right hand is doing. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

When you pray, don’t act like the hypocrites do, who make sure that they are noticed by standing in houses of worship and on street corners. That attention is all the reward they will get. Instead when you pray, go off by yourself, shut the door and pray to your Father secretly. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

Don’t repeat the same prayers over and over again, like other people do. They think their prayers will be answered if they repeat them many times. Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask him.”

MT 6:1-8

Healing in secret – Mark 7:31-37

Jesus was forever healing people and telling them not to tell. They rarely listened to him. Here’s one of the readings for today that illustrates this.

“31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (NRSV translation)

Now, let’s look at this more closely.

“32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.”

The man is deaf and also has a hard time talking. He probably isn’t mute. These are probably his friends who have brought him. People were constantly bringing sick and infirm people to Jesus. Sometimes people came on their own, and sometimes Jesus came across them. I find it interesting that they felt that physical proximity was necessary, or even that he had to touch him. Jesus touched a lot of people to heal them, but in some cases he just said a word and they were healed. There wasn’t one particular way that he healed – he just healed.

“33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.”

I find it interesting that he took him aside to do this. He didn’t heal him in front of everybody. He wasn’t trying to get attention. He just wanted to heal the man and not make a big show of it. I’m not sure what the spitting part is about – I don’t recall Jesus doing that with any other healings. Now, here’s an interesting point – he couldn’t have been truly alone, because otherwise how would we know what he did in such detail? I suspect his disciples were there with him.

“34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

I love the fact that he sighed. I can only imagine that Jesus was getting tired of being called on all the time to heal. I wonder if that was what he thought he was going to do all throughout his ministry? Perhaps he planned on just telling people that the Kingdom of God was near, and that all their sins were forgiven. Perhaps he didn’t realize how many people would be hounding him for healing.

It is significant that he looked up to heaven. He’s calling upon God. He’s connecting with the Source of all healing. He did this before both examples of the loaves and fishes miracle too.

“Be opened” is a good meditation for any time we feel stuck. By opening ourselves, we are allowing healing to enter us. Also, it is helpful to remember that the broken spaces in our bodies and in our lives is the way in for God. This way of thinking actually sanctifies our pain and brokenness.

I find it interesting that this is one of the few times that the word that Jesus spoke is included in the Gospels. In the English translations they don’t usually put his actual words. Why this one, especially when it is a hard-to-pronounce one?

“35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Now, this is kind of funny to me. Why bother to tell the man he just healed not to tell people that Jesus had healed him? They are going to figure it out really soon. They brought him to Jesus when he was deaf and had a speech impediment. The two of them go away, and now he can hear and talk normally. Of course Jesus healed him. Well, God healed him, through Jesus. But the crowds aren’t going to get that. They are just going see the healing, and see Jesus, and figure it out. So it can’t really be a secret for very long.

There were certainly plenty of other times where Jesus healed people and there weren’t crowds around. He told them to not tell, and they did anyway. This only made it harder for him to travel or get any rest.

Now, this calls to mind the present-day idea that we are supposed to give credit to Jesus when we are healed. It seems from reading the Gospels that this is the last thing that Jesus wants.