Blindness, deafness. Cancer. A toxic relationship. Bankruptcy. A soul-numbing job.
Situations we face that seem intractable, beyond even God’s power to heal.
And not just in our own lives but horrors stalk the societal plane as well: last week’s shootings in Pittsburgh and Jeffersontown, KY, and pipe bombs flying through the mail.
Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a
large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind
beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus
of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David,
have mercy on me!”
Bold, courageous, full of faith. Bartimaeus called after Jesus as soon as he heard that the great healer was on the road. No hesitancy, no doubt. Just certainty and persistence. Jesus called to him, despite others telling the beggar to be quiet, and in the immediacy with which Mark’s gospel pulses, Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, sprang up and went to Jesus who gave him sight.
What about us when we’re faced with seemingly unhealable wounds and grief? Are we like Bartimaeus, calling out to Jesus? Or are we afraid, unsure that even God can heal us?
I used to be more like Bartimaeus, fearless. As a junior in college, I had my eye on a particular student and wanted to go out with him. I was in the choir, and he was the assistant organist. One night, our schedule kept us in rehearsal after the dining hall was to close. Undaunted, I went up to Richard, put my arm through his and said, “Well, maybe some handsome gentleman will take us out to dinner!” He did, and we were married for some 17 years. We are divorced but greatly enjoy and treasure our friendship, and our sons Mark and Nathaniel carry our love with them wherever they go.
That’s how it is with many of us – we start out free, bold, sassy and then, as spiritual writer Anne Lamott says in her book Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, then “the world gets its mitts on us,” and we lose a lot of that spontaneity, that innocence. We begin to hesitate and our Bartimaeus-ness fades.
So how do we get it back? How do we, like Bartimaeus, believe without doubt that God can heal the unhealable, move the intractable? Lamott points to mercy, saying the “hope of renewal and restoration is found in the merciful fibrillating heart of the world.”
At first, I thought she had used the wrong word, that she should have written “beating” heart rather than “fibrillating” because when I think of fibrillation, I think of a heart that’s not working. But when I looked it up, I found that fibrillating means quivering. So the hope of renewal and restoration is found in the merciful, quivering, heart of the world.
“Mercy,” she says, “is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves absolving the unabsolvable, forgiving the unforgivable …
“(Mercy is) the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing goodness anyway, the belief that love and caring are marbled even into the worst life has to offer.”
Mercy’s a good place to start; mercy for ourselves, mercy for others.
And as we walk that path, our faith will grow – in ourselves, in others and in God’s ability to heal all wounds. And with Bartimaeus we will throw off our cloak and call after Jesus, knowing he is indeed the one true source of light.
There is a new addition to the KAE Writes Library! Check out My Dream in the “Reflection & Memory” section.