I shut my eyes in order to see.
-Paul Gauguin, 19h century
We are half-way through the season of Lent. How is this period of reflection and spiritual practice for you this year? For many it is heightened by what is happening in the world around us and especially in the politics and governance of the United States. The scripture lesson for this Sunday is the story in John’s gospel of Jesus healing a man born blind. It has lots of reflection on who is blind and who can truly see.
Roman Catholic sister Elaine Prevallet, SL, writes about a line from a Theodore Roethke poem that has been a companion for her for many years. In a dark time, the eye begins to see. This line has brought her an inward comfort, offering assurance that darkness has its own way of clarifying vision.
Just seven years ago she shared that line in a reflection in which she wrote:
I believe that we are just beginning to see the light, just starting to learn that if we are going to survive, we need to learn a way of more expansive love and care for one another … we sometimes learn best when we learn the hard way: Our mistakes take us to a new level of understanding and compassion.
Maybe not enough of us have learned what we need to learn as a people and as a species to be ready for a “more expansive love and care for one another.” With many of the policies and laws being enacted or discussed there is great fear that many, many people will be harmed, find life much more difficult, hurdles and barriers to climb much more daunting. Maybe we need to learn an extremely hard, hard lesson to find our way to the way of love.
Sister Elaine reflects:
As we become increasingly sensitive to the pain accumulating on our planet, we may hear the voice of God calling us to pay attention and sense the Spirit of God drawing us together to a new and deeper unity through compassionate action. Maybe we who want to call ourselves Christian must look for the patterns of insensitivity in our lifestyles and behaviors. Whom do we exclude, not just from our churches but also from the ambit of our compassion? In Christ, God has shown us the way: a willingness to risk engaging the world around us with an ever-widening vision and ever-deepening compassion. In our baptism we committed ourselves to be faithful to that pattern. Can we keep our eyes and our ears and our hands and hearts open?
These are powerful, challenging questions for us to take into our Lenten prayer time. Is the darkness symbolic of our own blindness? How are we challenged to open our eyes, ears, hands and hearts to participate more fully in the “way of more expansive love and care for one another?” This Sunday we will explore some of these questions together.
See you in church.
R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida