If Jesus were to approach us, this morning, like he approached the blind
person, and touch us and ask, "Do you see anything?" how would we
respond? Would we be able to tell Jesus, yes, we see everything clearly? It's
hard to see God clearly at work in our lives sometimes, especially these times,
when there are so many worries that can cloud our vision. Sometimes, it's hard
to see all we can be thankful for when every time we open a paper or turn on the
TV we are confronted with images of the Dow taking a cliff dive, or car workers
in Detroit looking anguished, or people filled with despair in war-torn
countries. I just came back from NYC and couldn't help but stare at the throngs
of people rushing around in Grand Central station. I don't think I was imagining
this, but I swear I could see hundreds if not thousands of tired faces, signs of
worry written across the foreheads of so many. And yet, here we are in church
today. Thanksgiving is a few days away. I would bet for many of us, we are not
too unlike that blind man in the gospel of Mark, yearning for a healing touch by
the holy one, hoping to have our vision restored, yearning for the eyes of
faith. For times like these, consider this simple story. I know that children
like short stories. So here's one you can share with your friends, other
children, youth and wonder about together.
There were two men, both seriously ill, who were staying in the same
hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each
afternoon to drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's
only window. The other man had to spend all of his time flat on his back.
Every afternoon, the man by the window would pray, and then sit up, and help
pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see
outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour
periods when his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the color and
activity of the world outside. He would close his eyes and imagine the scenes.
The man by the window described a park. The sparkling lake there, the tall
evergreens, the sunsets, and the man who fed the ducks gently. The child who
climbed the tree laughing. The couple who walked in step, arms linked. The
young boy who kissed his grandmother on the cheek. The woman crying as a
friend beside her stroked her hair. The parade that marched by one day, where
people radiated spirit and camaraderie.
These visions would prompt the men to talk then for hours on end, sharing
what they found meaningful in their own lives. They spoke of their
relationships, their questions about God, their failures, their joy, their
brokenness, the blessings that punctuated their days, their hopes, their
prayers… This went on for days and weeks.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for the men's baths only
to find that the man by the window had died peacefully in his sleep. As soon
as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the
window. The nurse made the switch. Slowly, he propped himself up in his bed on
one elbow for his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the
joy of seeing it for himself.
Straining, he turned to look out the window but was shocked to see that it
faced a brick wall. The man asked the nurse what would have compelled his
deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window. The
nurse responded that the man had been blind and could not even see the wall.
Then she said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.
In this story, there is a sighted man, but he is not the one with the vision
-- at least at first. It is the blind person, who leads the sighted man to look
out the window metaphorically, beyond his limitations, his pain, beyond the
brick wall, to recognize the landscape of God's creation in his midst. He helps
the sighted person set his attention on the subtle ways that, from minute to
minute, God animates the world we all share, the people we see and encounter,
and the meaning of our lives. The blind
person left the sighted person with an indelible gift -- the vision of
gratitude, the vision of faith.
How ironic, but then again, at this time of Thanksgiving, we must be ready
for these kinds of profound surprises in our own lives. We must be ready for
surprises that snap us out of our funk. Can we allow then, that even though
there's all this mess, so many brick walls to get past, all this gloom in our
world, can we allow for our eyes to be opened by God? Can we see the world in
the clear way the blind person by the window sees it, the way God wants us to
see it, and not in the blurred way the world tells us to see it? Where do we
Ask Jesus for the lens of faith. Ask Jesus to make your vision clear. Jesus
wants to help us with this -- indeed, scripture tells us so. Consider that in no
fewer than 11 instances in the Gospels, Jesus heals people who are blind and
restores their sight. If interpreted figuratively, we can imagine that Jesus
wants to heal us and help us see God's world more clearly through the eyes of
faith. So simply ask, like the blind person in the Gospel of Mark, that Christ
help you see the world the way Christ would have you see it. Then wait, watch
carefully for Christ's response. It is improbable that He will heal us by laying
his hands on our eyes, of course, but it is likely that He will touch us through
the kind of revelation that can come to you in the blink of an eye, through
surprise and through grace in this blessed time of Thanksgiving.
Let us pray.
Copyright © 2008
Gretchen L. Elmendorf. Used by
Oh Lord of our Hearts, be thou our vision. Oh Jesus, restorer of our sight,
help us to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and allow ourselves to
be touched by you through the hope and love of your faithful people. May we be
grateful for you and the countless ways you are at work in our lives. Amen.