I Now See
She had been gone from her hometown for seven years. Disappeared without a trace. Some thought she was abducted. Others assumed she ran away. Her name was Prairie. She was blind.
A cellphone captures a woman standing on the edge of a bridge.
It is Prairie. And she jumps.
As her parents approach her in the hospital, they are grateful and relieved to finally see their daughter. Prairie is confused because, for the first time in her life, she sees her parents. When her parents take her home from the hospital, her community and the media have a hard time believing that it's really Prairie.
This is the beginning of the mysterious Netflix drama "The OA," which I couldn't help but think about as I read this week's Gospel text in the lectionary.
In John 9, Jesus sees a man who has been blind since birth. In ancient culture, his blindness forces him to be an outcast and a beggar. The religious blame his condition on his or his parent's failure. Jesus approaches the man and spits in the dirt. He takes his hands from the muddy ground and rubs the paste on the blind man's eyes.
He could see.
But, as he walks through town, his community doesn't believe it's the same blind beggar they passed by every day on the street. They call him "imposter." The formerly blind man responds to them, "I know nothing about that that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind...I now see."
Many, if not all, of our encounters with God, cannot be explained, scientifically studied, or boxed into religious categories. They must be experienced. The man's encounter with Jesus upsets the religious leaders so much that they throw him back out on the street where he belongs.
Jesus hears about this situation and finds the man. Jesus asks the man, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" In other words, "Do you see?" Blocked by their legalistic cultural systems, it is the religious leaders who are blind to the experience of God. After all, a man is healed! Where is the party?
May we not be blinded by our own interests, assumptions, and expectations that we have for God. May we celebrate those who see and experience God. And may we pray for the eyes of the blind to be opened in our community and our world.