From blindness to sight. In a flash of light.
Blind from birth, your world of darkness dissolves into amazing colors.
Previously, the entire world had been in your imagination—the way everything looked—fed only by what your sense of touch told you about how they might appear if you could only see them.
We can close our eyes and touch a lamp or a chair or another human being and understand their appearance—but only because we have the memory of them in our minds. Someone blind from birth would have nothing at all to go on.
So imagine how the man felt in the Gospel of John after receiving his sight from Jesus. My imagination can’t come close to appreciating the man’s astonishing experience.
Jesus had been walking down a road when he saw the man and declared “I am the light of the world.” Then Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with his saliva. He spread the mud on the man’s unseeing eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
Ironically, this man is able to see but many of those around him suddenly suffer from a kind of blindness. The man who was once blind can see them but they cannot see him.
“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’” the Gospel of John tells us. “Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’”
The once-blind man insists, “I am the man” but some people simply refuse to believe him.
There is an old saying that applies to these doubters: No one is as a blind as those who refuse to see.
Jesus has worked a miracle but some people simply refuse to see it.
That got me thinking about life and my own experiences in this world. It struck me with sudden forcefulness that we, too, are sometimes blind to a miracle that Jesus or God has worked in our own lives.
And what struck me most forcefully was the realization that this blindness doesn’t always come from disbelief. Most of the time, in fact, this form of blindness comes from the fact that we have become too familiar with a miracle. We have lived with it for so long that it no longer strikes us as miraculous. We take it for granted. Like our spouse, for example. Choosing to live with someone, for better or worse, for a lifetime—and then following through with it—is not un-miraculous.
I imagine that within a handful of years, the man in the Gospel of John also came to take his sight for granted. Not intentionally. He wasn’t ungrateful for the miracle that Jesus had worked in his life. Through the years, every day he woke up and saw he sun rise made that new dawn seem gradually less and less miraculous. Every color emerging from the darkness of night was so familiar to him.
The same thing can happen when Jesus leads us through and out of one of life’s deep, wounding pains. It seems miraculous at first but in time we take the gentle scar for granted. Or, worse, we grump about the scar, forgetting how the wound, itself, felt.
Every now and then it’s a good idea to close our eyes and remind ourselves of a miracle worked in our own lives. Then, keeping our eyes shut, give thoughtful, meditative thanks for that miracle. We might imagine Jesus by our side. We might hear him spit on the ground, and then sense him kneeling beside us, making mud with his saliva.
We might feel his touch upon our closed eyes, the mud warmed by his caring hands.
Then, when we next open our eyes—with Jesus as the light of our world—we might see the miracles in our life more clearly.
That includes the reflection in your mirror.