So far, though, my favorite thing to say in Italian is a simple, common word:
It means, “Let’s cross over.” Friends say it to each other constantly when they’re walking down the sidewalk and have decided it’s time to switch to the other side of the street. Which is to say, this is literally a pedestrian word. Nothing special about it. Still, for some reason, it goes right through me. The first time Giovanni said it to me, we were walking near the Coliseum. I suddenly heard him speak that beautiful word, and I stopped dead, demanding, “What does this mean? What did you just say?”Jesus is Mark’s Gospel also likes the phrase “let us cross over.” Jesus makes six sea voyages (4:35, 6:47, 5:21, and 8:13 and the return 6:32, 8:10). The common destination of the crossing is to the other side – the passage to gentile territory, the journey to the unknown, the crossing to the other side of humanity. The first two crossings are fraught with danger. The disciples are in peril from wicked storms which Jesus stills, but wonders “do you have faith?” These crossings show how for those who follow Jesus the journey can be scary and difficult, but the reward is bringing the stranger into community. The disciples are scared by this prospect. To invite the stranger in is going to necessitate change and we aren’t always comfortable with change. Each crossing that Jesus makes ends with a feeding. Jesus opens the table first to the Jewish community and then to the hungry gentiles crowds. This task of forging the new community is dangerous but there is enough bread for the journey (Myers, Binding the Strongman, pp. 194-197).
He couldn’t understand why I liked it so much. Let’s cross the street? But to my ear, it’s the perfect combination of Italian sounds. The wistful ah of introduction, the rolling trill, the soothing s, that lingering “ee-ah-moh” combo at the end. I love this word. I say it all the time now. I invent any excuse to say it. It’s making Sofie nuts. Let’s cross over! Let’s cross over! I’m constantly dragging her back and forth across the crazy traffic of Rome. I’m going to get us both killed with this word.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love, pp. 71-72.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side.” Mark 4:35
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Mark 5:21
And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side. Mark 8:13
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. Mark 6:53
In this new age where the world is interconnected we are in contact with individuals and communities, who dress, speak, think, and act differently. Sometimes we find the differences appealing and are enriched by the encounter. Other times we are scared by the encounter with differences because we have made assumptions about those who are different and hold people at arm’s length (Myers, Say to this Mountain, pp. 93-94). Jesus says to us in those times, “let us cross over.” When Jesus says, let us cross over where do you see him inviting you to go? Where is Jesus asking us to cross to the other side in Lake Geneva? What do you think the journey will look like? Will we remember there everyone will be fed? May we have the courage to say yes when we are asked, let us cross over.