I was blind but now I see – Prayerful Tuesday

23He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. – Mark 8:23-25

Walk in the fog by George Holden Publicdomain.net
Walk in the fog by George Holden
Publicdomain.net

In January I had Cataract surgery and I must admit I never knew how much I was missing or how dark my world had become.  One of the first things I noticed was that our light bulbs were a lot brighter and we didn’t need to change them after all.  I also noticed evergreen trees, grass and the leaf buds on our Lilacs were so much greener than they were.  The colors of the crocus and daffodils seemed to pop out like neon lights and I was amazed at how blue the sky was (that is when we had blue sky).  The funniest thing was my IPad mini.  I have a screen saver of stars and low and behold I just discovered there were also clouds in the picture.  I couldn’t see them before.

I thought about the scriptures where Jesus healed those who were blind, especially the one where it took two tries before the man could see clearly. In many ways we are all like that one man.  We see but we don’t really ‘see.’

My sudden clarity in sight has also made me think of all the things we miss because we don’t “see” them, really see them. We see the homeless man standing on the corner but we don’t really see him. We don’t see his pain, or his embarrassment, or his fear.  What we see is a figure, as the blind man said as a walking tree, but we don’t see the human, the child of God who is before us.  How many of you have taken the hand of a homeless person and looked into their eyes and saw the person for who they are, our brother or sister in God.

How many of you have gone to a jail and comforted the mother of a victim, or taken the hand of a felon and said you are loved by God, don’t be afraid.  How many of you have seen children arrested for stealing drugs at their parent’s request  or for stealing to provide for their family’s who are held in Juvenile Detention for a year or more because there parent or guardian can’t get clean from drugs or alcohol and there is no responsible adult to care for them.  How many of you have held someone suffering from mental illness or PTSD and said ‘I’m here, you aren’t alone.’

If you haven’t volunteered at a shelter or soup kitchen yet find the time to do so.  Volunteering there is a lesson in compassion and humility, of seeing people society throws away as our brothers, sisters, and friends who are in pain and afraid.

I am grateful that I am now able to see creation more clearly, the colors in sunrises and sunsets, and to rediscover the beauty of spring flowers.  I love it that I can now see the faces of my friends and family, each and every one of them, more clearly.  I love it that much that had been hidden by my own dark glass has been made clear.  But today there is so much darkness, so much fear, so much hatred that clarity of sight is difficult for us all. Jesus said “I Am the Light of the world.” (John 9:5b) and in the words of the Prophet Mohammad “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” (Quran 23.35a)  As people of faith we are to be the light that brings sight to the blind.  We are called to bring the light of love, compassion, justice, and peace to a wounded world.

My recommended Spiritual Practice for this week is to open your eyes and SEE the world around you. Take the time to gaze at the beauty of a flower, and marvel at the rebirth of delicate green leaves on a tree. Let the beauty of creation refresh your heart and cleanse your eyes.  Then take the time to see the people around you, offer a sandwich to the homeless man, woman, or teenager on the corner and take the time to look into their eyes and see your brother or sister, your son or daughter.  Let them know they are known for whom they are a child of God.

Gracious Lord, you gave us eyes to see you in the face of all who surround us, to see you in a smiling baby’s face, the wrinkled face of an elderly, in the broken lives of the homeless and the hungry.  In our rush of our daily living we become blind to all the love you have given us and we forget to pass on the love we are given to those in need.  Help us in our blindness Lord.  Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©March 8, 2016

Eyes to See– Prayerful Tuesday

Vermont Meadow, June 22, 2006
Vermont Meadow, June 22, 2006

Today my prayer offering is a Celtic poem that reminds us to stop and see the world around us, To see the creator in all that we encounter.  The Pearl of Great Price will be found not in your wallet, or fame, rather  it is in the a field of flowers bright with sunshine, an elderly person who welcomes your presence, a babe in arms who snuggles into your heart.  Let those who have eyes to see and hears to hear.

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone on my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Daily Readings from Prayers & Praises in the Celtic Tradition
introduced and edited by A. M. Allchin and Ester de Waal
Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois, 1987

Ruth Jewell, ©September 22, 2015

An Elder’s Meditation: Accepting and Giving Thanks

Mark 4:26-29  He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

Walking though the  Huon Valley & Tahune Forest Hobart, Tasmania, Australia April 15, 2015, ©Ruth Jewell
Walking though the
Huon Valley & Tahune Forest
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
April 15, 2015, ©Ruth Jewell

This past spring John and I were on a 6½ week pilgrimage of sorts.   Unfortunately 2 hours before we were to be picked up by Shuttle Express I fell in my office and tore or badly bruised the calf muscle of my left leg and also  I refused to go to the emergency room because we would have missed our flight. Well, along with back issues, that fall meant I spent our holiday with a cane and walking as if I was 250 years old.

The fall and my, seemingly forever back problems, meant modifying some of our activities and learning to depend on the graciousness of people in New Zealand and on board our cruise ship..  I was helped by strangers I would never see again to walk up hills, across sand dunes, into cars, buses, and boats.  All they asked for was a simple thank you and a smile.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude to these angels in disguise.  They made our visit to NZ and back to the states a trip of a life time.

Now many of you may also have noticed that I often have a motor mouth (in the case of blogging, motor writing) and when I offer thanks to someone I will chatter on nervously for 10 minutes.  It took 6½ weeks for me to figure out that saying ‘thank you’ or ‘you are a blessing’ was all that was needed.

Learning to stop talking and listen has always been hard for me but what I have discovered this late in my life is when I stop with a smile and thank you I SEE the face of the angel who helped me.  It doesn’t matter what nationality, or skin color, or language they speak, the light shines through.  It isn’t just their job anymore it’s that they have been recognized for who they are.  If I am not speaking or thinking of more to say, I see them for who they are.

You have also probably noticed I have just as much trouble, maybe more, in receiving gratitude.  I am self-deprecating to the extreme.  Probably because I was taught that nothing I did was to be done for any expectation of thanks. But on this trip I was more aware of not just offering thanks but of receiving the gift of graciousness and help.  You see to offer thanks you have to have received something and that gift is hard one for me to accept.  But I learned to stop explaining that I fell, or have a back giving out on me.  I learned to simply take someone’s hand and lean on them for help without explaining how independent I normally am.

The scripture of Mark is one of giving and receiving.  It is giving your time to sow and the harvest is the receiving of God’s blessing (didn’t think I’d work that in did you).  What has finally sunk into my rather thick brain is giving and receiving God’s blessings comes in many forms and I am grateful for the giving and receiving of all the blessings from God’s hands I have received not just on our trip but in my whole lifetime.  It may seem like a small thing but graciously accepting the assistance from a stranger gives me a gift of love and the giver a gift of grace.  The Importance of keeping the ‘thank you’ short and sweet is that it focuses on the gift and the giver rather than my own ego.  It works the other way as well.  Keeping assistance I give to someone else also focuses on the gift I give and the receiver of the gift instead of me.  The giver and the receiver receive the gift of grace and love.  That is a beautifully thing and passing that gift on grows the grace between me and you and opens wider the door of the Kingdom of God.

To all of you, Thank you for being who you are, and many blessing on your many journeys.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 15, 2015

Thank You – Prayerful Tuesday

Wordle gratitude

32 Let the afflicted see it and be glad!
You who seek God—
let your hearts beat strong again
— Psalm 69: 32 (CEB)

30 But I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth;
among a great crowd I will praise God! 
— Psalm 109:30 (CEB)

This past January John and I visited Boston to celebrate his and our youngest grandson’s birthdays , which fall on the same day.  And, yes I know January is not the ideal time to visit historic Boston and yes we had snow.   However, we just couldn’t miss this celebration of joint Birthdays.

Because the weather was anything but comfortable we all decided to visit the Boston Science Museum and spend the day where it was warm, dry and had lots of exciting things to do and see.  The 2 grandchildren had a great time exploring the human body, looking at dinosaurs and exploring all kinds of interactive exhibits.  For lunch we chose to take our packed lunch to the large busy café and supplement all of our goodies with a few treats.

After making our selections and paying for them I went to get the necessary napkins, forks, spoons and straws needed to eat our lunch.  As I was picking up my things there was a young man restocking the bins as we took things out.  It looked like such an endless job and more than a little boring but he was doing an excellent job of keeping up.   Before I left I turned to him and said “thank you for keeping this area stocked, I’m sure it’s not an easy task.”  Startled he turned and gave me a gruff “thank you.”

After we had finished our lunch and were preparing to leave the area the same young man pushed his way through the crowded exit area and called to me, “Miss, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your thanks.  No one has ever spoken to me that way before and I was afraid I might have offended you so I wanted to make sure you knew how happy I was.”

First of all, I really liked being called miss, no one has called me that in a very long time so he won me over just with that one word.  Well I was happy to bring a little joy into his otherwise boring day with just a few words of thanks from me.  But, what saddened me was his statement NO ONE HAD EVER COMPLIMENTED HIM for doing his job well!  No one ever said thank you! That is one of the saddest things I have ever heard.  It took me all of 2 seconds to express my thanks to the young man and those 2 seconds made his day.  For 2 seconds he wasn’t invisible and unimportant.  No he had been seen, he was important enough for someone to say thank you.  As we were separated by the ever shifting crowd he waved and gives me the biggest, toothiest grin I have ever seen.

Two seconds out of my day added joy to someone else’s.  Gratitude isn’t an emotion or attitude we are to keep to ourselves, no, gratitude is to be given away freely at every opportune moment, even when you yourself are not grateful.  We hear so often we are to be grateful for what God has given us, to express gratitude by thanking God.  Well being grateful for God’s grace comes in many forms.  It was a grace of God that a young man did his boring job well, it was a grace of God that allowed me to see the face of God in the young man and his courage to continue performing a rather menial task even when no noticed how well he did it.  Gratitude for the grace of God comes in many forms, big and small, all are important in the eyes of God.

The Psalms tell us to seek God’s face and to offer our thanks for God’s gifts.  Each one of us is a gift, each one of us has a gift to give, each one of us is the reflection of God, and each one of us carries God within.  So doesn’t it make sense to give thanks to those who reflect the grace of God?

Over the next week begin the habit of saying thank you for the little graces of God.  Offer thanks to the bus driver as you exit, say thank you to the young woman who hands you your morning coffee or say thank you to the washroom attended and see the smiles grow around you.  Offering thanks is an easy spiritual practice and one that brings great joy to the receiver and the giver alike and it is free to give.  It costs you no more than 2 to 5 seconds of your day, surly we can spend 5 seconds to bring hours of joy to someone who feels they are invisible to the rest of the world. Surly we can learn to do that every day, for every person we meet.

Thank you for reading my blog post.  Your presence on my site has made my day and I am grateful for your interest.

Ruth Jewell, ©February 25, 2014