From the Well - 10/25/2018


Mark 10:46-52 (MSG) 
46 They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, "Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!" 48 Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, "Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!" 49 Jesus stopped in his tracks. "Call him over." They called him. "It's your lucky day! Get up! He's calling you to come!" 50 Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. 51 Jesus said, "What can I do for you?" The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." 52 "On your way," said Jesus. "Your faith has saved and healed you." In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.

We may have perfect vision but we may be spiritually blind.

Someone bluntly asked blind and deaf Helen Keller, “Isn’t it terrible to be blind?” Her response gets to the heart of the matter, “Better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing.” This is the point Jesus is trying to make to His disciples.

Parker Palmer tells a true story about a long term group he facilitated for public school educators. He says there was a high school shop teacher who was having a hard time in the group. He just didn’t get it. Tim almost always sat in silence, looking uncomfortable, distracted and often disdainful of Parker’s process. Parker says that six times Tim took him aside to ask, “What the heck are we doing here?” Six times Parker told him that his question, though heartfelt, was not one he could answer for him.

As the seventh retreat got under way, it quickly became clear that something had happened to Tim. He was obviously eager to tell everyone about it. For the past two years, he said, he had been locked in a power struggle with his principle, who had insisted that he attend a summer institute on the new, high-tech method of teaching shop. For two years, Tim had responded to his principle with and equally insistent and increasingly angry. ”NO!”

“This high-tech stuff,” he told his principle, “is just another fad that will fade away. And even if it doesn’t, it’s not what my students need right now. They need hands on experience! I should know. I’ve been teaching shop for twenty years. That summer institute is a crock, and I’m not going to waste my time or your money attending it.”

For two years, Tim and his principle had been in the ring with each other, and a few weeks earlier, the bell had rung for round three. Once again the principle called Tim in and made his demand, and once again Tim refused.

But this time, Tim said something new. “For the past year and a half,”he told his principle, “I’ve been sitting with this group of teachers who’ve been exploring their inner lives-and I’ve begun to realize that I have one, too! I can see now that I’ve been lying to myself, and to you, about why I won’t go to the summer institute.”

“The truth is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid I won’t understand what they are saying. I’m afraid that what I do understand will make me feel like I’ve been teaching the wrong way for twenty years. I’m afraid I’ll come home from that institute feeling like I’m over the hill. I still don’t want to go, but at least I can be honest with you why.”

At that point Tim paused and then continued, “My principle and I sat there in silence for a while, staring at the floor. Then he looked up at me and said, ‘You know what? I’m afraid too. Let’s go together.’” [1]

With Jesus’ help our eyes can be opened and once they are opened there can be growth, understanding, and faith. Jesus has the capacity to help us see if we will just let him. He can help us push back the blind spots in our own lives, blind spots that bring harm to us and to others. He can help us see the places in the church, community and world where our gifts can be used to make the world a better place to live. Think about it.

[1] Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an Undivided Life (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 67-68.