Sight, Light, and MUD

Sight.  Light.

Side by side they stand in John chapter 9, co-mingling in the person of Jesus.

He SEES the man born blind.  He also perceives you and me.  Not to judge, but to encounter and to heal.

Interestingly, MUD is the anointment of choice.  Something about that tells me Jesus does not mind getting his hands dirty. He is not turned off by our grime.  Instead, he stoops down to interact with it—to interact with us.  Then he invites us into it—to join him in the (messy) process of our healing.  “Go and wash,” he says.  It is an intentional journey.  The “Light of the world” invites us to participate with him in our healing, and gives us the opportunity to bring the Father glory by bearing witness to our healing.

Below is a poem about a recent encounter I had with Jesus during a time of conflict in my life.  Like the blind man, I couldn’t see myself or others clearly.  But, I felt that Jesus stooped down into my mess, invited me to Himself, and then helped change the way I see.


Scrubbing My Soul

by Amy Israelson

I sit,
wondering if I can ever beat
Beat this anger that is bubbling up inside of me.
It feels wild, volatile, untamed;
Like a whip, eager to lash out—
to sting like I’ve been stung!
The kindness of yesterday melts away like a spring snowfall, revealing the dirt and grime underneath.
It is ugly.
I feel ugly.
Years of dirt and decay lie exposed.

Hate: rotten, stinking, potent.
How can this be inside of ME?
I look away.

Yet the storm brews.
I stir; wondering how to calm the soul within.
“Be still.”
But how?
“Be still.”

The Psalmist says:
“I have stilled and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
A weaned child? Resting. Nestling. Beloved.

How about
“a clenched fist”;
“a wild storm”;
“a garbage heap”
is my soul within me?

I search for an image, placing my hand on my heart.
“Lord, what is the state of my soul?”

It is in the crook of a darkened room,
scrubbing a filthy wall on my hands and knees:

“A sooty cavern.”
And there I am:
In the corner,
Hunched over.
Face scrunched.
Eyes narrowed.
Sweat dripping.
Trying to scrub it clean!

I have made progress.
A small patch of wall,
about the size of a handheld mirror,
is white—ish.

Jesus comes into my cavernous room.
With light about him.
Emanating from him.
Walking into the room,
with radiance around him.

The walls (I notice),
become bright, themselves full of light: gleaming back at me.
Jesus stops and waits.
I am full of awe and spin around on my knees—to face this Light-man. Jesus.
My heart leaps inside my chest.
He IS light. He BRINGS light!

“Jesus,” (I laugh!)
“it is THAT easy for you, isn’t it?!”
My God who turns my darkness into light!
He smiles—He radiates with joy and brilliance.

“Will you drop the rag you hold?”
He asks compassionately.

Yet I stiffen.
Resistance rears up.
Pride roars.
I grip the cloth.
I want control!

What should I do?
Jesus has invited me to cease.

I keep my face towards the Light-man,
not wanting to return to a life of scrubbing.
I sit and watch him:
Jesus at ease in my mess.
His shoulders unburdened and his posture open;
He is completely at home with soot-covered me.

I return to this image for weeks,
striving—willing my resistance to fade.

Finally, something in me breaks.
“Who am I kidding?!”

I drop the rag and move toward him
I finally let myself go, and fall into his arms.
He laughs, embracing me.

“Now THAT wasn’t so hard, was it?!”

“Be still” is the voice of the Light-man.

In this quiet moment,
The walls melt away—
giving way to a free, open space—
fresh air and sunshine swirl around me,
fields unfold in the distance.

Overwhelmed by a sense of joyous adventure,
I dance.
Like a little girl, I twirl freely—arms wide open.

How is my soul within me now?
It is….
A dancing child.
A bubbling brook.
A wide-open field.
A forgiven daughter.

[posted at Curriculum of the Spiritual Life]


—Amy Israelson

A reflection on John 9

Best When Broken Teaching Series

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