Sunday, October 05, 2008

I am Bartimaeus

During the RDL Prayer Workshop, we learned more about the Ignatian or Gospel Contemplation method of prayer.   Fr. Cel said that contemplation was "a long loving look at the real".  It was a look using our whole being - using our mind and our imagination, our senses and our passions.

In contemplation, I simply see.  Love is the eye.  I try to be as passive as possible and to let the scene unfold.

So I went into a contemplative attitude and entered into my interior reactions to the Gospel passage that was given.

We were asked to contemplate, "just as if we were there", using Mark 10:45-52.  You may read it here.  I will wait.  It's important that you read it before going further.

So many times, I have read and meditated on this passage.  Always, I was outside the scene.  I could not relate with the blind man.  I could not ask Jesus what my heart was yearning for.  I could not enter into the scene.

This afternoon, as I was in an environment conducive to contemplation, I had a differet experience.  All of a sudden...

I was Bartimaeus.  I was blind, although I was not born so.  I remembered scenes and images, but they had slowly faded away into a blackness and a darkness that surrounded me.  

I had lost everything and I had had to beg in order to survive.  I could not bear the pain any longer.  I had tried different healers, and different masters, but continued to be poor and blind.

Just as I could not see anyone, I felt that no one could see me.  No one could hear me.  I longed to see the light again; to be set free from darkness.

One day, I heard a commotion.  There was so much buzz about Someone who was coming to town, and who was passing by the road where I usually sat to beg.  People said that He was here:  the Master.  Son of David.  Jesus.

The titles and the name held meanings to me from a past life, but I could not recall them anymore.  I could not understand them.  I knew, though, that He was Someone who could help me.  

People were pushing me and stepping on me.  I called out his name.  "Jesus", I said softly, tentatively, but the din of the crowds following him drowned out my voice.  I spoke louder and shouted, not sure if I could be heard, but needing to cry for help, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"

I felt Him hear me.  I felt Him stop in his tracks, turn around, and call for me.  The crowds were amazed.  They parted to make way for me.  Bedraggled beggar in tattered clothes.  Smelly sinner, unwanted by society.  For this Man, I was important.  All of a sudden, I mattered to One, and I mattered.  Someone said, "Take heart.  He is calling you."  I tried to stand up but I fell.  I was so excited.

I was brought to Him, for I could not walk.  My knees were wobbly.  I could not see my way, though I could sense His presence calling out to me.  

When I was finally brought before Him, I heard Him asking me, "Ella, what do you want me to do for you?" He had asked me this question countless times before, but I was unsure then how to respond. This time I no longer hesitated.  I had been waiting for a long time for Someone to ask me that, and finally, He had come.

"Please, Master, let me see again," I begged Him.  In saying this I was interiorly asking Him to let me live again.  I was asking for Him to let me breathe again, and to walk, and to be finally free of the darkness that had imprisoned me for so long.

He paused and regarded me for a moment, and then He told me to "Go forth", or to go my way,  because my faith had saved me.

I could have run the other direction to go back to the land of my birth, as I had always yearned to do.  That would have been "my way". Instead, I felt an invitation to open my eyes, and I saw Him.  Jesus, standing before me, with a kind, inviting look in His eyes, waiting for my response to His act of setting me free, of saving me.  He had a loving look in His eyes.

I started to wonder, "Who is this man who heard me, answered my prayer, healed me, moved me?"  I don't want to leave him.  I want to follow Him.  To take one foot in front of the other, to see the world again, and to see it with Him by my side.

I was no longer a blind beggar.  I was Touched.  Healed.  Loved.

And I chose to follow Him - my Master.  Son of David.  Jesus.

Still with my bare feet, tattered clothes, and shabby appearance, my eyes that used to be blind and unseeing welled up in tears.  My heart overflowed with gratitude.  

I am Bartimaeus.  I am Ella.  And my Savior, whom I love, is Jesus.

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