This story is inspired by John 9:1–41, the healing of the man born blind, and Mark 10:46–52, the healing of Bartimaeus.Bartimaeus and I talked about it. His healing was immediate. Not mine. I must have looked like a fool stumbling down the road, mud on my eyes.
“What was the first thing you saw?” I asked Bartimaeus.
“The face of Jesus. You?”
“My own reflection in the pool.”
As we sat looking—just looking—at the splendid, ordinary people passing by, we asked each other: What was the most amazing, surprising thing you saw today? What would be different for you today if you couldn’t see?I’m not sure why Jesus didn’t heal me instantly like he did Bartimaeus. I had to journey to wash.
Bartimaeus said, “I really don’t think I could’ve let him put muddy spit in my eyes. You are brave.”
“Not at all,” I said. “I heard that spit heals, so I dared to hope. Besides, you’re the courageous one—shouting to stop Jesus. I didn’t even ask. Jesus wanted to illustrate a point to his followers about making God’s works visible. I was lucky.”
Bartimaeus shook his head and looked up at the sky. “But you had no hesitation. You acted. You went to the pool.”
He had me there. I was willing to do something a little outrageous. I remember feeling hesitant as I walked. An inner voice taunted, “If you accept the gift of healing, no more begging for you.” What work could I do? I was skilled at nothing except begging. How would I make a living? If I was no longer blind, my parents would have expectations for me. Halfway to the pool my steps slowed. Should I continue?
“Wait!” a stranger called. There was a pothole ahead. From there on, this fellow guided me and let me voice my doubts. I asked, “Who am I to expect a miracle? Why me? What next?”
The stranger listened—the first person who really ever did. The stranger even held my elbow and was there when I washed. After my own, his was the first face I saw. I had only felt faces before; I was surprised by the colors and this man’s expression. He gaped. What did that expression mean?
“I almost gave up on God. Now I meet you,” the stranger said. It was his turn to pour out his heart.
Bartimaeus said, “I wonder if that man needed to witness your healing. And that’s the reason you were sent to the pool.”
“Hmmm,” I replied. “The stranger was the one telling everyone about the healing.”
I thought some more. “I never expected the consequences of seeing. I didn’t expect to catch the Pharisees’ eyes, to be ridiculed and mistreated by them.”
“Well, my friend, that’s why you and I are on this journey. I didn’t expect the turns my life has taken either.”
“I wasn’t just cured. I was interrogated, mocked, and mistrusted.”
Bartimaeus nodded. “The leaders failed you.”
“I don’t fault my parents for staying neutral. This way they didn’t get kicked out of the synagogue too.”
Bartimaeus looked pensive. “If you had to do it again, would you choose to remain blind?”
“And wallow in self-pity?” I said. “It may have been easier. But Jesus saw something in me and knew I could face those Pharisees.”
“Would you go to the pool again?” Bartimaeus asked.
“In a heartbeat. And I pray for the grace to be sent again.”
Reflect further on John 9:1–41 with an Arts & Faith: Lent reflection video inspired by the image, El Greco’s Christ Healing the Blind.