Last week we practiced Visio Divina, Sacred Seeing, allowing ourselves to be called through a curve or a cloud or a colour deep into memory and silence; to allow the press of the divine on our lids, to receive new sight. I remembered the sacred seeing of the man whose lids Jesus touched. I thought of the realities of terror and indifference and hunger that so often fill our sight. And I thought of the Compassionate One who pulls the yearning cosmos through his body, crying, “stay awake with me”. We have this Lent practiced response to this cry, offering our hearts: their beating, their breaking and now their seeing. This Lent our senses instruct us. This Lent we make of our bodies, prayer.
Walking along, Jesus sees someone ready for healing.
His disciples see a chance for technical questions.
They are still unaccustomed to the answer who walks beside them
Jesus sees a man whose eyes are cloudy and whose heart is open,
a heart waiting for new words to fall into it,
a heart waiting for the Word who will set him free.
Jesus sees a man who stays still,
a beggar’s bowl beside him,
acutely aware of the buzz of the crowd.
One feeling the space before him filling up with heat and heft of body,
feeling the movement of air as Jesus crouches down to spit in the dirt
and drag his thumbs through the paste.
There was no way to anticipate the feel of those thumbs
drawn across his lids,
tender and confident.
Though he could feel the air move,
no way to anticipate that someone who spoke words of light out of darkness
would be anything but a trickster.
No way for this one to be certain of anything but his longing.
This one was still open,
accustomed to longing so great
and hope so resilient
it didn’t question the efficacy of mud
or the power of water.
And so he goes, down to the pool, the one born blind
the one who had never become so accustomed to who he was
that he was unable to move toward the waters
in which he would become all he could be.
The one not so accustomed to who he was
that he couldn’t hear the voice that would tell him who he was becoming.
The one not so accustomed to his infirmity
that he wouldn’t risk embarrassment or hope or credibility
to live healed,
to be changed.
It may not have been easy for him to get to the pool,
wandering around blind with a muddy paste on his eyes.
We don’t hear that he has help – he just goes –
he just finds a way.
and as he washes the paste runs in rivulets down his cheeks.
And what do you imagine –
does he open his eyes right away with complete confidence?
Does he shade his eyes and look downward,
the first thing seen the miracle of the water.
Does he open one eye to test things out,
afraid of crushing disappointment or foolishness?
What do you imagine?
When he sees, it must have been overwhelming.
A fifth sense added to four already honed to an exquisite edge?
Can you imagine opening eyes on a world you’d never seen before?
Can you imagine light when you had known nothing but darkness,
The curve and line of shape
when it had only ever before been felt.
Other eyes looking into yours.
The man came back transformed,
Back to the folks that often gathered round the pool,
back to the neighbours
and those who had put coins in his beggar’s cup.
Back to all those who aren’t touched with the blessing of new sight,
who haven’t had blind eyes opened,
who haven’t recognized the light in their midst.
The man comes back just a few steps
and he must be so bedazzled he can hardly breathe.
It is wonderful to witness such delight.
Can you see him right in our midst,
twirling and leaping,
drops from the pool spraying off him
caught in the net of the air
like tiny rainbow fish.
Can you see him?
Could we have seen him?
Do we still know how to hope for transformation.
to feel tender hands on our faces
to feel our sight changing under closed lids
to really long to be healed.