Monday, April 11, 2011

Here's Mud in your Eye!

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’ They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’ John 9:1-17

When we were kids, we used to drink our cool-aid or milk and shout, "Here's mud in your eye!" Drinking cool-aid out of bright metal cups on a summer's day is a cherished memory. My mother still has those cups although now they are sold at high prices and called retro in the stores. We never really knew what we were saying when we toasted. Our parents didn't drink alcohol and were seriously committed to the cause. But my parents would join in the toast, laughing like kids along with us. I didn't learn until much later that the toast originated from the First World War. English and American soldiers spent their days and nights in muddy, water soaked trenches. They were literally up to their eyeballs in mud and so this toast was their way of saying we lived another day. We will survive. A blessing in a cursed environment where so many died unnamed, and where the living came back as shells of themselves. War is hell and the promise of companionship and life after horrible circumstances is a true blessing and gift for all.

Jesus found a man born blind and the theological arguments continue as to why he was blind. Some one was trying to find fault, they wanted someone to blame. But Jesus saw this man as the vessel of God's revelation, as one who has lived through horrible circumstances and still holds the promise of new life. He knew this man to be blessed in his circumstances since God has compassion on all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit. Jesus gets very personal with the man, tender even, as he used his own saliva and made mud for healing the blind man. This act of kindness and intimacy from God changed the suffering man and also his whole community. God's love broke through all of the cruelty, disease and judgement and provided light and vision where once there was none.

Today, as we live through changes and hard times, may we remember that God is in the midst of our most difficult moments and stirring up the mud for our eyes and for our hearts. God's love is not far off but full of compassion and healing for each of us. Whether we are at war, deep in the trenches, or feeling at sea in a new world, may we remember that God is always moving to us for healing and new life, for light and new vision where once there was only darkness. Here's mud in your eye!

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