This story is inspired by Mark 8:22–26, the blind man of Bethsaida. It uses Ignatian contemplation and the imagination’s eye to reflect on the value of sight as we start our July exploration of encountering God through our senses.
My friends are shaking me, rousing me out of bed. They insist on taking me to Jesus the Healer while he’s in town. “Listen! All he’ll do is touch you and you’ll see. Trust us; there’s nothing to it!”
So now they’re dragging me through the town, like a sack of potatoes. They should use their eyes to keep me on a smooth path, instead of letting me constantly stub my toes.
They stop at last. They must have found him. “Master! Only touch this man and he’ll see!”
I wait in a silence that seems to last ages. Tears are burning my eyes. He must be rejecting me! Finally, I feel a hand softly grasp mine. Is this the miracle touch? No. Still holding my hand, he starts leading me. Trust, indeed!
The stink of the streets disappears, and the noise of the town grows quieter as I realize we’ve left it altogether. Now what? The tension is unnerving, and tears of fear again fill my eyes. Is that all they’re good for, Lord?
I hear him spit. Horrors! Maybe he’s going to spit on me, beat me while I’m alone and unprotected. Then his fingers, wet with his spittle, softly touch my eyelids. For a blinding moment I feel the same sensation I had when they took me to the Baptist at the Jordan. I feel the same freedom, like a newborn babe, all innocent.
“What do you see?” he asks.
I open my eyes. Everything is blurry. Why didn’t the cure work? Surely because I’m such a sinner! My friends have led me down the garden path, only to be cruelly disappointed.
Now I feel his hands tenderly cupped over my eyes. Maybe he’s praying. He takes his hands away, and lo! I can make out every leaf of every tree, every blade of grass! I look to the distance toward my home. At last I can see well enough to set it in order, maybe even plant a garden.
He speaks again, telling me to go straight home and avoid the village.
Ah, now I really see! What he’s saying is, the village represents pollution, worldly values and desires. Free yourself of these thoughts. Think only of what is holy and draws you to God. Open the eyes of your heart to the beauties of God’s Kingdom. At the end, you’ll be blessed with the ultimate vision of the Face of God.
Image: Andrey Mironov, “Christ and the Pauper. Healing of the Blind Man.” (cropped) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Today in 31 Days with St. Ignatius, watch a video of Kevin O’Brien, SJ, on the Two Standards.