The Eyes of the Blind Shall be Opened
Have you ever felt like your spirit or the essence of who you truly are doesn’t align very well with your body or life circumstances? When I was growing up I felt that way every time someone called me shy or told me I had a soft voice. I didn’t feel like the person other people saw. I felt like a fierce and passionate spirit trapped inside a body that appeared meek and passive. My lack of alignment between my true self and my body caused a lot of anxiety and depression for me. I dealt with it by writing because I could express my true self without the limitations of my body or other people’s impressions of me getting in the way. I was recently at an event with a group of strangers where we were supposed to go around with a piece of paper that we would hand to someone else. At a glance we had to intuitively write a word that we felt expressed the essence of what the other person was. While the words were all positive, I knew before this activity began exactly what my paper would say in the end. Meek, gentle, tender-hearted…I laughed when I saw the words and thought, intuition has to penetrate deeper than the skin.
I just read a book with my kids called “Petey” by Ben Michaelsen. It’s a fictional story of a boy who was born with cerebral palsy in 1920. People saw him as incapable of thinking or feeling, and he was placed in an asylum to live out his days in drudgery. But the story shows us Petey’s perspective and he very much has a soul that is alive and thinking and feeling, trapped inside a body that he can’t control. Most people don’t stop to truly see Petey for who he is, but every once in awhile someone does. Those are the times when Petey is able to express who he really is and to express his needs and his desires. Those are the happy times in his life. These people come and go. They are a Hispanic aid worker in the asylum, a female nurse, some mice, a mentally handicapped friend in the asylum, a retired volunteer, and a teenage boy. The one thing they all have in common is their ability to see beyond Petey’s physical body deep into his soul. This didn’t cure Petey of his cerebral palsy, but it allowed him to be who he really was, bringing his body into better alignment with his soul. Just the feeling of being heard, understood, and valued, brought with it healing power.
I think this is the same healing power that we talk about in gospel terms. It is the healing power of Christ and the restorative nature of the gospel. Isaiah had a vision of the world in its restorative state:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:5-6
I think the blindness in this passage is twofold. First there is the spiritual blindness that causes us not to be able to really see each other’s souls. Seeing people for who they really are requires an exercise of spiritual senses. Just as physical blindness requires the development of other senses to help someone see, we need to develop intuitive senses to help us see people’s souls. These intuitive senses include an ability to hold space without filling that space with our own narrow experience. We need to develop an ability to listen without judgment. It requires us to develop compassion with a sense of equality to the other person. This is the opposite of pity which we give with an air of superiority. Most importantly, if we are to heal our own blindness, we must do the work to become aware of where our own blind spots are. Intuition, the art of attuning our spiritual senses takes work and practice. It’s not something you can do with a quick glance. It’s not something you can do without spending time and energy trying to understand an experience that is not your own.
The other type of blindness Isaiah is talking about is actual physical blindness. The physical ailments of this life, the parts of our bodies that don’t align with our souls can be healed. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the blind will actually see or the lame will walk. The healing power comes in our ability to see people and to assist them to align with who they really are.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately because of all the debate I have heard over transgender issues. If someone doesn’t feel that her/his soul aligns with her/his body, if that inability to align is causing depression or dis-ease for that individual, I want to be better at attuning my spiritual eyes to see that person’s soul. It is in the seeing of each other that we will heal the world and create the restoration of all things that the scriptures talk about. I don’t think that this restoration means that people with cerebral palsy will be miraculously healed. Transgender individuals won’t suddenly identify with the biological gender they were born with. They won’t change because there is nothing really broken inside them. I’ve never felt broken or in need of healing because I have a fierce soul inside an introvert body. The dis-ease that I felt came only from not being seen for who I truly was. The disability is ours in our own blindness to see and know each other.