The Way of Healing

Scripture can be found here...

I am the man.

I am the man who was blind from birth. I am the man.

Now… I no longer understand the world I am living in.

In my thirty years, I had learned the world through sound… the voice of my mother, calling me by name and singing me a lullaby… the shrill yells of the other children, who believed I brought a curse with me, and so warned me to stay away. The loud, frightening cry that meant a death, and grieving. The bark of a dog for warning or the barks of men for laughing.

I had learned the world through touch… being held in what I later learned were my mother’s arms, warm softness, which used to be so large it was my whole world, but which eventually became an embrace from separateness, joining us again only briefly. The sting of a sharp rock thrown by those shrieking children. The terrifying sweep of garments passing me, every which way, if I were lost in a crowd.

I had learned the world through smell… the scent of an east wind or a west wind, the stink of a flock of sheep passing by, or the fire pits of garbage at the outskirts of town. The aroma of bread baking on the hearth. The smells of people… father, mother, sisters, brothers, aunts, cousins, each different, each unique. The smell of a wealthy or important person—clean, or perfumed.  The smell of death, unforgettable, unmistakable.

I had learned the world through taste: the good grain of my mother’s bread melting in my mouth as I chewed it; the taste of blood after being struck across the face; the bitter herbs of Passover.

But now, all these things I know are confused by what I cannot yet understand.[i]

I was walking with my brother, to his house, to eat the Sabbath meal. I heard men walking by, talking together, and then my brother and I were stopped. They made us stop.

The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes,

and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.”

Then I went and washed and received my sight.

I don’t know where he is now.

I don’t understand the world I see. I see things, but I cannot tell what they are. My brother showed me a sheep, and I didn’t believe him until it bleated and I was close enough to smell it. A shape with moving things suddenly touched me and embraced me—oh, those are arms!—and then I smelled my mother, and I tried to understand.

I do not yet fully understand.

Is this seeing? This hard, confusing thing that changes the whole world? This thing that makes me want to close my eyes again?

Then some shapes… I was starting to understand, what shapes were people…shapes with many… they are called colors? Many colors, and they smelled rich and important… they came towards me, and with harsh voices, asked me, how did I receive my sight?

He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.

I could hear their anger, and I tried to look… everything swirls, and moves, and sometimes something that is two becomes one. Nothing, no one stays still. I can’t yet understand… but I tried to see, and to remember, what anger looks like.

Some of the rich, clean ones said, “This Jesus is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How could a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.

The one whose voice was loudest said to me,

"What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened."

I told them:

He is a prophet.  And then my brother pinched my arm.

Look. I do not understand the things I see. Not yet. Not completely. But I learned the world by hearing, by touching, by smelling, by tasting… And I have eaten enough Sabbath meals to have heard the stories of the prophets.

Moses brought plagues upon the Pharaoh, and brought water and bread to the people by the word of God.

Elijah made the grain and oil last and last, and healed the dying boy.

I understand what a prophet is. It is someone who brings God’s truth so that all can… see it! Understand it. Accept it. Live it.

He is a prophet.

The anger got bigger, and the shapes of the rich ones moved and flowed as their arms waved in the air.

They said, “Give glory to God, not this sinner!”

I told them,

I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, though:  I was blind, now I see.

More anger, bigger anger, arms waving.

“What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

Then I heard my own voice get bigger.

I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Would you like to become his disciples?

The loud one said,

“You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

Here is an astonishing thing, I thought. And then I said it out loud:

Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. … Tell me one time you have ever heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would be powerless.

They did not want to see. It’s hard for me to blame them. I can tell you how hard it is to see, when your eyes have never before been open. It is easier to close them again.

We had to run. My brother helped me run. It was easier for me to close my eyes… he could lead me in the old way, the way he had led me since we were children. We had to run. I closed my eyes.

It was late now. The Sabbath dinner had long since been eaten. Still, we were headed towards my brother’s house, running on the Sabbath, which is just as frowned upon as healing on the Sabbath. (And now I know what a frown looks like.)

And then, my brother slowed, and we weren’t at his house, and I opened my eyes again, because I heard familiar voices.

And there he was. Even my new, confused eyes could recognize him, because he was the first thing I had seen after he put mud on my eyes, and then they were opened.

He asked me a curious question.

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

I forgot to tell you. I learned by hearing, by touching, by smelling, by tasting.

I also learned by believing. The Son of Man? The man like other men, and yet not like other men? The man who was man, but who also spoke, touched, lived in the power of God?

I asked, Who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.

(But of course, I knew. He didn’t have to tell me.)

Lord, I believe.

I am the man.

The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes,

and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.”

Then I went and washed and received my sight.

Seeing for the first time is the hardest thing. It changes the whole world. It makes you want to close your eyes again. But I received my sight, so nothing will ever be the same.

I don’t know where he is now. But he is a prophet.

I believe.

Thanks be to God. Amen.


[i] Patrick House, “What People Cured of Blindness See,” The New Yorker, August 28, 2014.