“ Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.” Mark 8:25
“piano piano si va lontano” – Italian Proverb, “little by little one goes a long way.”
The first time that Jesus laid eyes on the blind man, his vision was unclear. He was able to make out shapes and shadows, which was far beyond what he could see before. But it wasn’t until the second time that Jesus laid hands on him that He was able to see clearly.
Jesus’ progressive healing of the blind man is the only of its kind in the gospels. Jesus did not do anything different between the first and second time that he laid hands on him. So what made the difference in the man?
Why wasn’t he cured the first time?
The blind man’s encounter describes the progressiveness of the spiritual life. We come to Jesus asking and unsure. It is only over time that our eyes begin to gradually open, that we understand the meaning of scripture.
This is the art of lectio divina. Many shy away from reading sacred scripture because they do not understand it, or cannot relate it to themselves. But having the desire alone is enough to bring to God, and the second time, the eyes of the soul will be opened.
Words are simply arranged on a page, parables that don’t make sense and proverbs that don’t seem to apply to today’s world. But sit before the throne of grace admitting your spiritual blindness and watch the words dance like people who look like trees and walk. Sit longer and it’s as if a spiritual magnifying glass has been shed on words that were previously blacked out.
Many people have asked me how I’ve come to understand the scriptures, how I study them. And while I have been divinely gifted with the knowledge and understanding of them in a deep and contemplative way, this is not without study. Anyone can attain this gift. Simply start by setting aside fifteen minutes of your time in the morning to be with the Lord and read Him.
I start off in complete solitude before the rest of the house wakes. Light a candle or two. Open today’s readings. I highly suggest Magnificat, as it includes additional morning readings and a wonderfully inspiring reflection.
I start to look for themes. I allow my soul to ebb and flow through the holy words. I look up the etymology and biblical meaning and read commentaries. Some of my favorite that I use are the Laudate app for reflections and Bible Hub for word meaning.
My study started out with fifteen minutes and gradually moved over time to an hour. As the Lord saw my understanding and wanting grow, he allowed my need to be satiated in His word to linger. He wanted me wanting- this is done on purpose. To allow me to sit with Him, to ask questions and to linger in His presence.
And while I may not figure it all out in an hour sitting, the words and thoughts linger in my soul throughout the day. What may have been unrecognizable in the morning is clear as day by noon. The veil sometimes remains for quite some time, but I keep at it until I understand. It is a seeking, an asking, a wanting that allows for full clarity. The first time he asks me, “Do you see anything?” I tell him somewhat. The second time He does not speak at all, I need only feel his touch.
Just say the word and my soul shall be healed
Let the words of scripture be a beautiful dance to open the blindness of your soul. Allow the words to touch you, ask questions, take his hand and then move slowly. Ask Him to change shifting shadows into clarity of light. Let Him take the lead. Then head in an opposite direction that you never saw coming.
This Lent, when you are contemplating what to give up, try your time. Give those 15 minutes back to Him. There is no doubt that after 40 days, you will come into Easter with your sight restored, saying, “little by little, I have come a long way!”