I wrote the following Lenten Meditation for All Saints’ Episcopal Church around this time last year, and as we are now into the season of Lent, I found myself revisiting it today. Little did I realize while writing this how much God would teach me in the beautiful “muddy places” of this past year and how much he continues to teach me day by day.
For your amazing grace, I thank you, Lord.
Lenten Meditation: Lent 4
I have always been mystified by the paradox and irony implicit in Jesus’ stories and parables: blindness for sight, the first shall be last, whosoever will lose his life shall find it, and so on. And here, while there’s so much to see in this passage, for some reason, I am fixated on the idea of Jesus using mud to clean and heal. Maybe it’s my swampy Louisiana roots, growing up by the “Muddy Mississippi.” Maybe it’s my tomboy childhood. Or, better yet, maybe it’s because mud is a part of all of us — the very substance from which God made us in His own image in Genesis.
Regardless, mud is muck and mire; it is dark, earthy, gooey, and gritty, and it certainly lacks the appeal of pure water or flashes of light that might be more easily seen as cleansing or healing agents for the eyes. Yet, Jesus spits on the ground and uses it to restore vision to a man born blind – a man already marginalized and labeled sinner, incapable of being healed – because of his blindness.
Jesus does the unexpected, and he further complicates matters by performing this miracle on the Sabbath. From the Pharisees’ perspective, he has done it all wrong – why touch a sinner? Why desecrate the Sabbath? Jesus is a healer and perhaps an unorthodox healer of the times, but it’s also the way that he heals. He does the unsavory; he spits on the ground and makes mud to put in our eyes – obscure, murky mud, but in spite of our literal and figurative blindness, we must obediently follow his commands, wash, and profess faith. Even in those times that might be dark, unclear, and frustratingly cloudy, we must believe and trust. Those muddied moments are often the ones that wake us to our own blindness, our desperate need for Jesus, so that we might truly see and relinquish control, and let God direct.
That which may seem like it would further hinder sight is what Jesus uses to cleanse and help us finally see. It is beautiful to think of how often that which seems unclear and uncertain in our lives is that very way for a reason, only to help us gain clarity and insight later on…once we have listened to Jesus, once we’ve “washed.” So often, circumstances in life must be muddy before they can be made clean. How else, then, could we demonstrate faith?
During this season of Lent, let us learn to trust God – even in the muddy places – when we are unwilling because logic tells us that mud is the last thing you want rubbed on and in your eyes to see better. We don’t need logic here; we need Jesus Christ. He’s here now, ready to do the unexpected, ready to perform miracles, and ready to assume the cross and atone for us all so that “God’s works might be revealed.” Help us, Lord, to admit to our blindness, our brokenness, our muddied uncertainty, to surrender to your mystery, and to profess our faith in the healing that can only come from you.
February 13, 2011