By Karen Harwell
I’m teaching a class on experiencing Christ through prayer. It’s been exciting to prepare materials and lead the class members in different prayer practices as we walked through the life of Jesus together. This preparation and teaching has been one of the favorite things in my week this Spring and I hate to see the class end in two weeks.
Last week we were practicing Ignatian contemplation while reading the miracle story of Blind Bartimaeus. I asked the group to consider their five senses (you know—seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting?) while I read the gospel story aloud. After we’d experienced the story together, I asked the group to share what they’d experienced. The usual (and valid) answers began to surface:
“I saw a dusty road,”
“I heard a noisy crowd,”
“I was thirsty,”
“I smelled sweat,” and
“My feet were tired.”
After asking again, what people saw, one class member quietly said, “Nothing. I didn’t see anything.” There was a pause of silence as we all absorbed the meaning of her statement. This class member is blind. Her statement came from a perspective that most of us will likely never understand fully. She was able to approach the story from Blind Bartimaeus’ perspective. A perspective that I doubt any of the rest of us in the room even thought to attempt to imagine!
As I thought more about this class member’s statement, I realized how blind we often become. Blind to the beauty around us. Blind to the healing that only Jesus can bring. Blind to the perspective that others can bring to the gospel stories when we share them in the community of faith. Blind to the miracles that God performs in lives all around me and, dare I say, in my own life. Blind to the needs around us. Would that we have the courage to echo Bartimeaus’ words, “Teacher, I want to see!”
Karen is Ministries Associate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and a graduate of the McAfee School of Theology.