The metaphor of going through life blind is deep. I woke up this morning and opened my eyes. In the dimly lit bedroom, my eyes slowly grew accustomed to “seeing” again after a night’s rest during which seeing was through the eyes of my mind and not physically through my optic nerves. But even after I opened my eyes, was I truly seeing? As humans, we are constantly filtering sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, sensations… And though this filtering process allows us to cope with the millions of stimuli we are subjected to every moment, if we are not vigilant, we will, in essence, go through life blind. The automaticity of filtering blinds us to many things. But being on auto pilot is in some ways comforting and reassuring. We automatically filter out everything that isn’t part of our “normal” routine and often do not see what is right in front of us. We pay attention to the details of the things that interest us and go “blind” to those that don’t. It’s kind of like remembering someone’s name. If you are interested or feel some connection, it’s easy to remember most of the time. If it is someone who does not hold our interest or even worse, someone toward whom we harbor some negative feelings, we often “conveniently” forget their name. So it is with “seeing”. The question is, “How can we open our eyes to all the wonders and miracles we experience on this life journey?”
In the gospels, there are several instances where Jesus heals the blind. Each follows a slightly different sequence, again, a metaphor for how we each individually experience blindness in our lives. Some of us spend our whole lives wandering in the wilderness blind to the miracles that surround us. Others are on a constant journey of seeking out the next wonder. Yet others have periods of blindness, a relationship that should have ended but lingered; the job that didn’t quite fit, but fear kept you there; the love that you let go because you couldn’t see its beauty; your career that was so all consuming you were unable to enjoy the world around you.
Of greatest interest to me is the healing of the blind man from Bethsaida. This healing happened in stages – not too different from how we, in life, can go from total blindness to perfectly clear vision… Jesus took this man through a process before he could see it all. Maybe because the man wasn’t ready to see. Maybe he couldn’t handle what he would see. Jesus in his infinite wisdom helped the man adjust to his newly opened eyes. I love this concept. First, Jesus took him away from all the clatter of every day life (outside the village) – perhaps so he could focus on Jesus? We could all use a retreat from the clatter. Then Jesus physically treated him with his saliva (applied to the man’s eyes) followed by the laying on of Jesus’ hands. Then when this was complete, Jesus did not declare, “You can now see.” Rather, he asked the man if he could see anything, leaving it up to him and his faith to indicate his healing. Apparently, the man needed another touch from Jesus. Sound familiar? Sometimes our faith is not sufficient the first few times and we just need another touch. It was then that the blind man from Bethsaida was healed and he could see and experience the world around him with total clarity.
Mark 8:22-25 (NIV) — They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Today, my prayer for myself and all of you is that (1) we would recognize and acknowledge what we are blind to; (2) our eyes would go through the process of being opened through faith; (3) we would be able to see and experience the wonders of this world with all its beauty and not let it pass us by for even one more second; and finally, (4) we would lovingly support and actively reach out to one another so that none of us continues to walk through life in the dark.