In the 8th chapter of Mark we read about Jesus healing a blind man. The man is brought to Jesus by some friends and the healing of the man unfolds over a period of time. A lot of the healing stories we read in the gospels are more immediate. But this one takes a while. First Jesus takes the man outside the village. Once outside Jesus takes some saliva and rubs it on the man’s eyes, then asks the man if he can see. The man replies that he can see a little but that things are fuzzy: “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Jesus takes some more saliva and puts it on the man’s eyes. Then the man can see clearly. And Jesus sends him away telling him not to go back to the village.
I’ve just been outside my village for three days helping lead Cursillo 206 at Camp McDowell. It’s a beautiful place and Cursillo is a beautiful thing. The effect of being at McDowell and Cursillo for those three days is that participants and staff are totally taken away from their regular worlds and routines. The few days are magical for many people and what takes place is one surprise right after another. Participants hear talks and meditations on the Christian faith. There’s lots of good food to enjoy and lots and lots of laughter. In this case lots and lots and lots of laughter. As I write this the morning after my return, I’m a little bleary-eyed and trying to adjust to the regular routine. It takes a little while to get into the rhythm of any retreat and, afterwards, it takes a little while to re-enter the world.
I have a friend who says he really only sleeps well when he is at the beach because, when he is at home, he wakes up often in the night worried about what he needs to do. When he’s away from home he knows he can’t do anything about all those things so he quits worrying about them. Getting away, outside our respective villages, is a good thing. The change of scenery and pace helps redirect our thoughts, allows us to let down our guard, and opens us to the healing energy of the universe in a way that is hard to duplicate while we are running our daily races.
There are many times the in gospels that Jesus goes apart to pray and refresh. Often it is alone. Sometimes the disciples are looking for him and can’t find him because he’s on a mountain somewhere. Mountains, throughout scripture, are places where God is more easily known and continue to be symbols to us for healing and transformation. Several times Jesus takes a few disciples with him to be apart from their regular routines. Each time that happens, something significant occurs and the disciples are led a little further on their spiritual journeys. And this time Jesus takes a blind man so that he can restore his sight. Maybe he could have done that in the village but Mark includes the detail of the man being led out of the village so that healing could occur.
The healing here takes a little while. In addition to being led outside his regular world, the man isn’t healed completely at first. Jesus has to apply the healing touch twice. It’s a progression rather than a swift or sudden healing. Sometimes we hope for immediate and easy resolutions to our struggles but usually healing takes a while. God is working in our lives but sometimes we might miss it because healing often comes in stages.
Where are you in life today? What is your need for healing? What things are making it hard for you to see what you want to see or what you once saw? For many of us the wonderful things that fill our lives – our careers and vocations and families – are the things that require so much of us that we become blind to some very important things.
When’s the last time you went outside your village? When’s the last time you went away for the purpose of renewal and refreshment? It used to be that leisure was a sign of success. The fact that you could take time away meant that you were at the top of your field and someone else was taking care of the daily grind. Now it seems that success is equated more and more with how busy we are.
Frankly I’ve not had much success in life with doing less. I can’t change the realities of my job or my family. There are certain things that fall to me, and me alone, to do. I can’t make that go away. And, honestly, I don’t want to. I love my life. But if my regular responsibilities are my entire world, then I spin into a pretty dismal place. It becomes all I can see and all I care about. Occasionally it is good for us to go apart and get outside our worlds. There we can see things we just can’t see otherwise.
Cursillo is a great way to get outside the village and see the goodness of God in fresh new ways. If you want to learn more, talk to me or Dustin Holmes, our parish Cursillo Lay Rector. It’s not the only way to see God clearly but it works mighty well.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.