The gospel reading this morning was the story of Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46 – 52) and one word jumped out at me that I hadn’t really ever taken in before, although I must have read the story many, many times over the years. The little word was, “again”; Bartimaeus says, “My teacher, let me see again.” What this means literally, of course, is that there must have been a time when Bartimaeus could see. Unlike the man born blind in John 9, Bartimaeus must have lost his sight due to disease. He knew what it was to see and what he had lost. His longing enabled him to cry out to Jesus and he would not be silenced.
Reading this gospel made me wonder what I once ‘saw’ but ‘see’ no longer. What have I lost that once meant so much to me. I was not thinking specifically of people who have died, broken love affairs or disappointed hopes. Rather I was thinking of Revelation 2: 4 where the message to the church in Ephesus reads,
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Life hurts. We lose people we love. Perhaps we don’t achieve what we hoped for. The daily news is depressing and we feel powerless to change things. Children grow up and leave home. We age; our bodies ache and don’t do what they used to do. We become cynical or cease to expect very much. In fact, we are in danger of drying and shrivelling up if we don’t work quite consciously at remaining open and grateful. And often our faith feels as though it is drying out, too. We just go along with it and accept it. It is this that Revelation challenges – our acceptance of the status quo. The writer reminds us that there was a time when everything seemed so vivid, life-giving and life enhancing and we don’t see that anymore. The world vision has taken over. It is as if we have lost our sight, our God sight. The eyes through which we look out at the world have become veiled with disappointment.
I don’t think it has to be this way. One of the things I have experienced on occasions is very deep emotion: joy, love and sadness, in dreams. It is as if it is all still there but can only be accessed when I let go of this tired, indifferent adult in sleep. The waking times at which I can also experience life more intensely are when I am able to be awake to the present moment, aware of my senses, glad to appreciate all that is around me. This can be practiced, and practiced over and over again. Stop, pause, sense through sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste – stay with it, give thanks. Jesus made a big thing out of saying thank you – gratitude. Remember the story of the ten cured of leprosy and only one turns back to Jesus to give thanks?
But perhaps we also need to take a leaf out of Bartimaeus’ book and cry out with all our hearts to Jesus that we might see again because we, like Bartimaeus, cannot do this without Jesus.