This idea of seeing and accepting reality has been following me around of late. It nudges me and it challenges me. Somehow, I’m pretty sure it will be a recurring theme so I’d best just learn to deal with it.
Today’s Gospel reading was LONG… we got the whole story it seems. If you want to read it in full go here: John 9:1-41 — yes, the entire chapter. The story is of a man who was born blind. He runs into Jesus, and Jesus makes a mud mask using his own spit and clay soil. He tells the man to go wash at Siloam which the man does, and he can see! And, by the way, this happened on the Sabbath. Well, this guy rejoices, but most folks don’t believe him. They think maybe it’s someone who looks like him. And, the officials, when they have to admit that it is him, and yes his blindness has been healed, they commence to arguing if this Jesus can be from God, since he broke the Sabbath rules and healed someone on the Sabbath.
Enter today’s reflection from Richard Rohr with the observation that sometimes (ok, most times?) we are not seeking to be right, but to be in control. It doesn’t really if I’m actually right as long as my view wins. We see not only in politics but in daily life as well. “If I can’t win this argument, let me turn it to a different argument.”
Back to the man born blind. It seems that because he is willing to tell his experience, he gets kicked out of the synagogue. He has to leave what should have been a rejoicing community, and he returns to Jesus.
My past jumped up in my mind. Nearly 25 years ago I found that God/Jesus/religion as I experienced it got me pushed out of what I had formerly felt to be a loving community. It was painful. I made the decision to look elsewhere in order to survive. I went to a different Catholic church (the only other one in the entire county). And, I found Jesus waiting to welcome me home. Granted, there have been struggles in this community as well, but I knew deep in my soul, 25 or so years ago, that this was right, proper, life-giving. My eyes were opened. I have had years to try to understand that I don’t need to judge Church A, but to accept that they see things quite differently than do I. It’s took years to be able to set foot in there again, and to be honest, I am still not comfortable there. But, it was time to seek Right, not control.
There are so many ways I have to let go of my side and seek truth. Sometimes it scary because God can speak truth to me from the mouths of folks I totally distrust and dislike intensely. I just don’t want to take off my blinders and allow truth to come from these dark places. And, I know well the saying that Satan can quote scripture with the best of us.
I must remember that reality doesn’t care what I think or believe. I remember it seems that the State Legislature in Tennessee at one time thought they could declare the value of pi to be 3, so calculations would be easier. Yeah — but bridges and more would fall down. Reality didn’t really give a flip about how easy it was to calculate certain values. Other current political, social and religious ideas run headlong into reality: You can try to tell people not to talk about sexual preference or gender issues, but that simply won’t stop how a person feels and what he/her/their preferences are. You can declare the value of pi to be 3, but the universe isn’t going to change. You can refuse to believe “supernatural things” occur, but you can’t change my experiences. You can edit the January 6 videos to show only the parts you want to be true, but it won’t bring back a dead police officer (or 2) or the fear felt by so many during the events.
Start with the real. Look beyond outward appearances. Seek the truth.
I too was struck by today’s gospel AND by the Richard Rohr column. I am amazed at the number of serendipitous times that has happened before.
PS Among other things I like the fresh way you put it… “If I can’t win this argument, let me turn it to a different argument.”