I had occasion to spend a little time at the Pool of Siloam the other day.
Metaphorically speaking, that is.
In point of fact, I live in the central part of the United States – 6,870 miles (and a couple of thousand years) removed from the site where Jesus cured the man “blind from birth.”
My own personal “Pool of Siloam” lies much closer to home, and looks nothing like a pool. It’s actually a cemetery, the burial ground since the late 1880s for LaSallian Christian Brothers in Glencoe, Missouri.
I was on site this week, working futilely to remove graffiti that had recently been spray-painted on a handful of the grave markers. As I rubbed and scrubbed the venerable stone, I noticed that I really wasn’t working up much outrage at the desecration. It felt a bit more like sadness – and resignation – that there are oh-so-many blind people walking about the world clutching their canisters of spray paint.
I could see them, I suppose, because this cemetery is the very spot where I began to see things a bit more clearly about 20 years ago – while on retreat at LaSalle.
It was here, looking out over the grave markers, that something stirred in me – the Holy Spirit, perhaps? A voice, a whisper…suggesting the truth in the notion that my life may not actually be about me.
And this, too: that a life joined to Jesus can play out in remarkable ways – entirely unexpected ways.
The Christian Brothers buried here testified to those truths. Even in their silence, they helped me begin to more fully hear the Truth.
Ah, but it’s so very difficult to detect that whisper of the Spirit, isn’t it? Our sinfulness – our self-centeredness – can tend to deface the goodness in us, the Godliness in us. And no matter how much we scrub, the stain of sinfulness remains.
This is an important component of the truth, too, it seems to me. We can’t get there on our own. Jesus says as much to the man born blind after he’s been cured:
[Jesus] said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
It’s an essential marker for our Lenten journey, is it not? To recognize that we need Christ, and Christ’s grace. We need to open our eyes, and see.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.