Let me see again
Once again we hear Jesus ask the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Last week, we saw that James and John responded to that question by requesting positions of prestige. This week, a vulnerable Bartimaeus’ response is ‘Let me see again.’ We can perhaps identify with the pain he has experienced in having lost the ability to see and his pain of having forgotten the beauty of all that is around him.
We are all aware that there are different ways of seeing. To illustrate this Richard Rohr tells the following story:
Three Ways to View the Sunset
Three men stood by the ocean, looking at the same sunset.
One man saw the immense physical beauty and enjoyed the event in itself. This man was the “sensate” type who, like 80 percent of the world, deals with what he can see, feel, touch, move, and fix. This was enough reality for him, for he had little interest in larger ideas, intuitions, or the grand scheme of things. He saw with his first eye, which was good.
A second man saw the sunset. He enjoyed all the beauty that the first man did. Like all lovers of coherent thought, technology, and science, he also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. He thought about the cyclical rotations of planets and stars. Through imagination, intuition, and reason, he saw with his second eye, which was even better.
The third man saw the sunset, knowing and enjoying all that the first and the
second men did. But in his ability to progress from seeing to explaining to “tasting,” he also remained in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connected him with everything else. He used his third eye, which is the full goal of all seeing and all knowing. This was the best.
The mystical gaze builds upon the first two eyes — and yet goes further. It happens whenever, by some wondrous “coincidence,” our heart space, our mind space, and our body awareness are all simultaneously open and non-resistant. I like to call it presence. It is experienced as a moment of deep inner connection, and it always pulls you, intensely satisfied, into the naked and undefended now, which can involve both profound joy and profound sadness. At that point, you either want to write poetry, pray, or be utterly silent.
‘The Naked Now’ Richard Rohr
The more we can see our life experiences in the same way as the third man, then the deeper the pain we feel when circumstances cloud that vision. Then our prayer is also: ‘Lord, let me see again.’ When we lose sight of the wonder of who we are in God we are like the little 4 year-old girl who whispered to her baby brother: ‘Won’t you tell me what God feels like. I’m starting to forget.’