My brain has fooled my eyes, or my eyes have fooled my brain. Or perhaps they have both simply conspired to fool me.
A few years ago, I had some significant trouble with the retina in my left eye, eventually requiring me to sit at home for three months, doing nothing. The final result is that my left eye is no good for reading, but is useful for most everything else – except for spotting the occasional worship recalcitrant out to my left (you know who I mean).
However, I can’t tell that one eye is damaged, unless I close my good one. With both eyes open, I think I can see just fine, because my brain has compensated, or something. So, like I say, my eye have fooled my brain, or vice versa.
As you may imagine, I am more cautious now, than previously. I am also occasionally surprised when something leaps out on my “blind side”, as it were. I also appreciate being able to see at all.
I imagine that being bent over for eighteen years must have been exhausting, narrowly defining everything about that woman’s life [Luke 13.10-17]. She could see no more than a few feet in front of her, and never saw anyone’s faces, whether exhibiting concern, disregard, or love. We don’t know if she was thirty, or sixty, but her life was shaped by her shape.
When Jesus heals her, everything changes. She becomes part of the world around her, able to match faces to voices, to raise her own face to the sun, to stand with her hands lifted in praise of her God.
Her world is no longer defined by the single pace in front of her.
Yet there are those around her whose world is just as narrowly defined, but by their own decisions. You can’t heal her! There are rules! As if healing from a generation-long disease is not breaking all the rules we know.
The Sabbath is for rest! When the gift Jesus offers her is rest from the exhaustion of her disability and exclusion for two decades. Their blinkered implication is that Jesus’ gift to her was work, not blessing; labour not renewal.
This is the wrong day for setting people free. Because we need regulations to know when people can be liberated and when they must remain incarcerated.
We know these people – they might even be us.
There are ways that our family, or our church, or our community works. We know some of the parts don’t work well, or are broken entirely, but change isn’t easy. We know; someone told us.
We become accustomed to truncated vision, then convince ourselves that our perspective is fine.
When someone points to a new vision, or when we are invited to look for ourselves, we tell the story that prevents us ever looking. There’s no point looking, it just makes you unhappy. It’s an illusion.
What will happen if we pray for a new vision? If we beseech Jesus to open our eyes to what life before us? If we implore the Spirit to un-bend us so that we can see more than our shoes and look to the horizon, to the stars?
Consider your own particular community of faith. To what have we become so accustomed that we cannot see more than a pace before us?
Now, just imagine what the God of all creation might show us if we asked!