April Rise Fourth Sunday Lent 2011 Healing of Blind Man At Pool of Siloam

As I look ahead to the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent  and the parable of the healing of a blind man by Jesus I was struck in the last few days how spring in my garden has been creeping up slowly in some places, rapidly in others.

I am so often blind to the miracle of the seasons.

On a plus side it is easier to see how awesome nature's power of regeneration is when you have been away in a place that is different  from home. 

Just like the blind man had to wash his eyes in the fresh water of the pool so too do we need to refresh our eyes to have new vision . That is what Lent allows us to do too- step off the dusty road for a while and wash our eyes so that we can be awakened to new ways of seeing.

Interestingly, the meaning and origin of the toast " Here's mud in your eye" is a recognition of mud as the medium of healing and well-being followed by liquid refreshment !

Thinking of the blind man at the pool of I reflect on how easy it is to be complacent about the miracles performed by Jesus. 

My naivety has made me spiritually blind so that I have not appreciated the magnitude and raw spiritual energy needed by Christ to heal this man. Sometimes the miracles of Jesus are devalued because we are so familiar with hearing them. I need fresh sight to see just how the awesome power of Christ is made manifest here.

Ron Rolheiser in this reflection on the gospel says :

"There are lots of ways to be blind. I remember an Easter Sunday some years ago when I was a young graduate student in San Francisco. Easter Sunday was late that year and it was a spectacularly beautiful spring day. But on that particular day I was mostly blind to what was around me. I was young, homesick, alone on Easter Sunday, and nursing a huge heartache. That colored everything I was seeing and feeling. 

It was Easter Sunday, in spring, in high sunshine, but, for what I was seeing, it might as well have been midnight, on Good Friday, in the dead of winter.

Lonely and nursing a heartache, I took a walk to calm my restlessness. At the entrance of a park, I saw a blind beggar holding a sign that read: It's spring and I'm blind! 

The irony wasn't lost on me. I was blind that day, more blind than that beggar, seeing neither spring nor the resurrection. What I was seeing were only those things that reflected what was going on inside my own heart.
Christ is risen, though we might not see him! 

We don't always notice spring. The miraculous doesn't force itself on us. It's there, there to be seen, but whether we see or not, and what precisely we do see, depends mainly upon what's going on inside our own hearts."


April Rise   

If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is

Laurie Lee

                                                                                     From David Lentink
                                                                   Two revolutions of a twirling maple samara, 
                                                                              illuminated by a strobe light.
Merton's voice
Every moment and every event of man's life on earth plants something in his soul .
For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.
A Merton Reader ed by Thomas P. Mc Donnell. New York : Image Books, 1989

                                                                                  Healing of Blind Man by Brian Jekel

Many commentaries on this gospel mention that the story is not just about the physical healing of the man but point out that the man who was blind gains not only his sight in stages but also his faith and recognition of who it is that has healed him progresses in steps.  
His healing gift of sight  parallels the progressive loss of sight and vision in the pharisees who can physically see but who cannot get beyond their hardened and myopic vision of who Jesus really is. Their entrenchment in dogma and rules leads them to make blind assumptions about Jesus which miss the whole point.

This poem below by D.H Lawrence spells out the importance of the spiritual dimension of illness and makes me reflect on how we have been blinded by an overdeveloped dependence on  the material "logos" of existence and have neglected the spiritual aspects of our lives that are vital for a healthy life.

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

D.H. Lawrence

                                                       Healing the blind by Edy Legrand

Many people have heard  the mesmerising voice of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the Aborigine singer. This is his song so softly and gently sung: "I was born blind."
He has struggled with the prejudice and scorn of others because of his condition and also because of his ethnicity. Yet in spite of this he has transformed his limitation through the medium of music and voice with a vision that illuminates us all.

Lyrics are below

I was born blind, and I don't know why
God knows why, because he love me so.
As I grew up, my spirit knew
then I learnt to read the world of destruction.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Together we'll stand, in solidarity

Ŋarranydja dhuwala Batumaŋ

ŋarranydja dhuwala Djarrami
ŋarranydja dhuwala Djeŋarra'
ŋarranydja dhuwala Gurrumulŋa
( The last verse calls on his ancestors.)

For those of you unfamiliar with his remarkable story this BBC interview (2009) gives insight.


claire said...

Ah, you're so obviously back, Phil, with your feast of readings and thoughts and quotes and images... How much I have missed you!

Andreaw said...

Great post Phil. And....there are also those who never even realize that they are blind. We must remember them in prayer. All eyes be opened today!