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Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Shhh . . . don't tell!"

“So He took the blind man by the hand
and led him out of the town.
And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him,
He asked him if he saw anything.
And he looked up and said,
‘I see men like trees, walking.’
Then He put His hands on his eyes again
and made him look up.
And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.
And He sent him away to his house, saying,
‘Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.’”
(Mark 9:23-26)

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus tells those He has just healed, “Shhh, don’t tell!”?  Our Great Teacher sure held a unique PR campaign!  Perhaps, though, it was a shrewd choice for a man with a dangerous message.

Could it also be that Jesus was protecting both his message and the healed person? Could it be that Jesus understood the people He healed had to learn how to report their healing in a way that others could hear? Like his phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear," Jesus may have been saying, “He who can speak for those who have ears to hear, let him speak.” Until then, "Shhh, don’t tell!"

Of all the “shhh, don’t tell” healing stories, this one shows special humor.  Before full healing, the half-healed man sees “men as trees walking.” If you've passed through the half-healed stage, you may laugh aloud that men really do appear at that point as "trees walking!"

We can all appreciate the process of healing as described by this story.  Even the Great Physician didn’t heal this man instantly on the first try. It's charming and it's true. For most of us, even when Christ is fully present with us, healing is a process.

I also relate to this story as a healing of sight.  My own optometrist has given me a diagnosis so exotic it delights me: anisometropia.  It turns out my left eye is near-sighted and my right eye is far-sighted!  Beautiful.  Eyes of paradox.  Thank you, Lord, for this comical symbolism!

Although I may take delight in having eyes of paradox, to get along in a society that likes to see in the same way, I need glasses. If you’ve been through an eye test for new glasses, either chuckle with me or bear with me as I describe it to those who haven’t had the pleasure of this exhausting ordeal. I described the test and its analogy in my journal as follows:

I think this time for me has been one of silence, as I've been silently recording thoughts that are becoming clearer and clearer. If you wear glasses, you know the drill when it's time to get new ones: you're looking through this big machine and the doctor shows you what feels like a hundred contrasts of images, always with the same question, "Which is clearer: 1 or 2?" First, one eye is covered, then the other, then neither. It's a process of getting closer and closer to designing the perfect set of lenses. And when the exam is over, you want to give your exhausted eyes a rest! In any case, this past year has been for me like that eye exam. Until the exam is through and my eyes are rested, I am to carefully guard what I see lest I speak of images still too fuzzy. (March 19, 2006)

I hope to express the context for my spiritual sight “little by little.” This is a phrase that was given to me by the mentor God granted to me for two weeks. Seeing that I had received new sight, he encouraged me to share what I was coming to learn “little by little.” The problem was the information was blazing toward me as a high-speed freight train. With no way to slow down the train barreling toward me, I had no way to speak “little by little.” I couldn’t do it and I got myself into trouble.

Imagine it this way: you are a student in a lecture hall and the professor talks like an auctioneer. But his lectures are profound and thought-provoking. Your job is to relay some of the lecture to your absent classmates in slow, gentle terms, “little by little.” But the class meets everyday and your classmates remain absent for weeks. Desperately, you try to fulfill your assignment, but you botch it up and make your classmates mad. They’re sure you’ve misunderstood the lectures. So what do you do? You give up on your assignment to your classmates. You keep coming to class, but they’re on their own. You are now a silent listener.

Likewise, to the newly healed man, Jesus said, “Shhh, don’t tell.” Perhaps once the man has learned how to tell the story of his healing in a way that others can grasp, he’ll be free to share it. I pray that now, 4 ½ years after the Savior began to fit me with new eyesight, I may begin to emerge, “little by little.” May Christ lead the way forward. Amen.
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