- Jim Lovelady
Day 32: Blind Bartimeus' Song
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.--John 3:19
My daughter's class had a debate asking the question, "Is it better to be ignorant and happy or to know and be shocked?" It is said that ignorance is bliss and while the journey of self-examination, confession and repentance is an arduous one, I am convinced that it is the pathway to God.
And when our mouths are filled With uninvited tongues of others And the strays are pining
For their unrequited mothers Milk that sours is promptly spat Light will fill our eyes like cats And they shall enter from the back With spears and scepters and squirming sacks Scribs and tangles between their ears Faceless scrumbled charcoal smears, oh dear Through the coppice and the chaparral The thickets thick with mold The bracken and the brier Catch weed into the fold When our mouths are filled With uninvited tongues of others And the strays are pining For their unrequited mothers Milk that sours is promptly spat Light will fill our eyes like cats Light will fill our eyes like cats, cataracts
I love Andrew Bird's lyricism, not to mention his incredible musicality (he plays guitar, violin, whistles and sings, virtually at the same time!). His word play is so creative and Cataracts is a great example. He plays with the contrast between the vivid eye sight that cats have especially in the darkness and the blindness associated with having cataracts. His point is, often the truth reveals itself in ways we don't like. We have an unwillingness to face up to the truth. It comes as an uninvited guest and we are blinded by its brightness.
In the Bible, blindness is a symbol for being deceived and when Jesus comes on the scene he announces that his mission is to give sight to the blind--in other words, show people the way things really are.
Sometimes I get a glimpse of the way things really are, or more specifically, the way I really am. It usually comes through the words or actions of Lori or the kids or maybe from a movie character that I relate to or a word from a friend. But it normally sneaks up on me and it's normally not very pleasant.
Reality comes when I stand on the scale and weigh myself or see a picture of the back of my head (how come no one told me I was bald?!) or any other sign where my body tells me I'm getting old. Reality sneaks up on me in other ways too, like when I meet someone who just grates at me and I realize it's because they are exactly like me! Cringing, I say, "Am I really like that?!" And Lori calmly and forthrightly says, "Yup."
It comes when my emotions get the best of me and I over-react in anger or in self-justification. It comes when I fast from Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Ganache and I get grumpy. It comes to me when I say something is no big deal but I can't sleep at night because all I can think about is that thing.
Words I hate to hear: "I need to tell you something about yourself that you may not have known…"
In my religiosity, I like to think that I am okay with having the light shone on my life but, if I'm honest, I really prefer the ignorance is bliss method. I love the darkness rather than light because I'm ashamed of all the evil dwelling in my heart.
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus on the way.
I think Bartimaeus is right. No matter how unpleasant it feels to have the light shone on my life, it really is stupid to be content with my blindness. It's silly to not want to be healed. So I think I will try Bartimaeus' song and cry out, "Son of David have mercy on me!" and if that becomes too embarrassing I'll wait until the shame leaves me and I'll cry out a little louder a second and third time.
"What do you want me to do for you?"
"Show me what I need to see in order to have the abundant life you have promised."
"Go, for your faith has made you well."
"You mean you aren't mad about all of these things in my life that I have kept in the darkness rather than the light because my works were evil?"
"Go, for your faith has made you well."
"Yup, I see all things. Even the darkness is light to me. I know the darkest part of you…and I love you."
Things change when the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ shines in your heart. You see, it never fails, the grace of repentance makes me want to follow Jesus on the way. Where else is there a grace that loves silly folk who are blind to their silliness? Where else can you go to have someone show you the real you and not cringe at the sight of you, not be disgusted with you? Only Jesus, the one who proclaims liberty to the captives and gives sight to the blind.
I confess I am blind to my blindness. I think I want to see things the way they really are. Show me what you would have me see today. Amen.