Posted October 23, 2009 in Word Made Flesh:
The Blind Man from Combermere

by Fr. Pat McNulty.

If I was superstitious and it was Friday the 13th, perhaps I might try to explain what has been happening by the position of the stars and planets. But I am not superstitious and it’s not Friday the 13th.

It is, in fact, Friday the 14th, and my article for Restoration is due now, today, within the hour. But I don’t have one to submit, and it has nothing to do with stars and planets.

This time, as soon as I read the Sunday Gospels for October, I knew exactly which one I was going to write about: the blind man from Jericho, Bartimaeus.

His cry, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me," is, according to many, the biblical spring for The Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

This has become one of the most illustrious of prayers in our Christian tradition, especially in the East, and one of my personal favourites, which I say under my breath a thousand times a day.

So, based on that event in Mark’s Gospel, I was going to tell you all about three blind men in my life who "opened my eyes" in a very special way:

"Stoney," the blind man who moved next door to us when I was in my early 20’s and who taught me about sight beyond blindness. Akmad, an elderly blind Arab whom I met at the Damascus gate in Jerusalem where he sat begging for a few coins every day and who taught me something about life beyond sight.

And finally my favorite, Bartimaeus, the blind man from Jericho, who through The Jesus Prayer, taught me to see in the dark.

The article came together so well. I changed a few things along the way and decided to put the final touches on it closer to the deadline.

Then when I went looking for it on my computer on Thursday, the day before the deadline, it was nowhere to be found. ("Oh Lord, please! Not this again! Please!")

Long story short: I had to start all over again. And believe me, the second time was like trying to roll the moon up a hill with your nose! But I worked hard and prayed just as hard and things were finally beginning to come together.

And P.S., I took special care not to lose this one to cyber space again. Nice try.

No, I didn’t lose it, but my computer "went crazy," and none of the changes or additions I had been making as I went along had been saved.

In the end all I had was the original bones of an article that was too bare for publication, and I would have to do it all over again! ARGhhhhhhhh! (I won’t tell you what I really said, but I will tell you I had to go to Confession!)

Friday the 14th, 12:30 in the morning. Nothing! The original article was gone from my mind and my heart, from my fingertips and my imagination. It was just gone. Period.

Well, perhaps a good night’s sleep would help.


Friday the 14th. 5:00 a.m. Drip. Drip. Drip. "What’s that noise?"

Drip. Drip. Drip. "Water? But I don’t have indoor plumbing."

I got up, a bit disorientated, made my way around my small cabin listening for where the sound was coming from. Drip. Drip. Drip.

As soon as my feet felt the cold water I knew what had happened because it has happened before: the electricity had gone out in the night, and my little cabin-fridge defrosted. The drip, drip, drip was water, and it was drip, drip, dripping all over my floor. Just what I needed! Lord …

ARGHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! ("Bless me Father, for I have sinned …")

Friday the 14th, 8:00 a.m. The clock is ticking. Nothing. I am sorely tempted to submit the shortest article I have ever written:

"Dear readers, I love you. My mind is totally blank. Write your own article. I’m going back to bed. Good night. Clunk!"

But, lo and behold, even as I was thinking those appalling thoughts, there stood Stoney, Akmad, and good ole Bart from Jericho smiling like three cats who just swallowed a canary.

"Whatta you guys grinning at? You’re part of the problem here, in case you’re interested."

"Oh really?" Stoney said. "We’re grinning at someone who is blind as a bat looking into the sun and still doesn’t get it."

"Get what?"

"You tell him, Akmad."

"No, Bart, you tell him."

"Tell me what?"

"Everything that happened over the past few weeks is the article, Pat. We can’t believe you didn’t see that!

"This was not a story about me and Stoney and Akamd, as wonderful as that may have been. It wasn’t even about getting an article done for Restoration. It was about what you were supposed to learn while you were trying to write the article. But from what you just told us, looks like you haven’t learned it yet.

"But all is not lost. It was exactly for situations such as this, when you prove just how fickle and fragile of faith you really are, that I taught you The Jesus Prayer. Yes, I did.

"So, just hand your article in to your editor, light your vigil light, sit down, shut up, and listen to your heart.

"Jesus is there in all the confusion of life. Drip, drip, drip. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. He is there. He really is."

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked. And the blind man said……(Mk 10:51).

—A reflection on Mk. 10: 46-52, the story of the healing of the blind man from Jericho, the reading for Sunday, October 25.


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Combermere Diary (October 2009)



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