Go! for Lent: Mark 10:52
Mark 10:52: Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’
Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
On vacation in France recently, I twisted my foot while walking downhill and broke my fifth metatarsal. At the hospital’s emergency room, the doctors put my foot in a cast, directing me to keep it elevated and immobilized for the next few months and to seek surgery back in the States.
Therein began a new step in my journey of faith – one hop at a time. A literal twist of fate derailed my plans and I was transported on a physical and spiritual journey of God’s choosing. A Parisian “break” in more ways than one! Instead of my vacation dreams to explore the galleries of the Louvre, stroll the cobbled streets of Paris and dash to dine with friends, I hopped out of the hospital on crutches, then parked for six days on the couch of a beloved friend’s living room. Suddenly, I could neither bathe nor use bathroom facilities normally, prepare my own meals, leave the premises nor access the outdoors without my friend’s assistance and watchful care. Wheeled through the airports, I flew back to the States. Instead of hailing a cab to my third floor walk-up in New York City, I was driven directly to the handicapped-accessible suite in my parents’ home (quickly dubbed “The Hermitage”), 100 miles away from my own. Instead of shopping for Christmas gifts, I was receiving gifts of crutches, a walker, a shower chair and a wheelchair. My dependency on others has endured for two months, and as I write this, I am still on the mend with my constant companions, my crutches, now nicknamed “Oscar” and “Romero”. Back in my apartment after two months away, I have only just taken down the Thanksgiving decorations.
What has it meant spiritually to temporarily lose my ability to walk? To be transported by others to places where I could be helped, unable to return home, dependent on care and good will rather than able to fully function on my own? It has been weird. A walk of faith, sometimes dark, lonely, isolating, physically painful. Prayers and cries rose to the ceiling of The Hermitage as I struggled to graciously accept my new limitations, swallow my pride, not lash out in frustration at those who only were trying to help. It has been humbling to step away from responsibilities, to depend on others for information, to patiently accept the slow knit of healing. As Lent begins, I am hyper-aware of the sin of my pride, how I take for granted my “able-ness”, my lack of understanding of the obstacles – and courage and resourcefulness – of those who live with disabilities.
And yet, like blind Bartimaeus, whom Jesus addresses in this verse, I can say that I can see again, and that “[my] faith has made [me] well.” In pain, frustrated and questioning, I could hear God whispering a reply to my cries: “I am taking you on a journey that is not of your choosing, to places you might not want to go. Trust me to get you there. Trust me to care for you when you can’t care for yourself. Remember the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and how I care for them (Matt 6:25-33). See how I have surrounded you with people to care for you and love you, to pray for you and call you, some of them total strangers. See the goodness and mercy and compassion that others give. See how Jesus suffered and understands your suffering. I love you. I will care for you.”
Hearing God’s whisper so clearly, trusting in the perfection of God’s time and urging to “be still, and know that I am God” has kept me spiritually “well” and praising God at a time that could have been fraught with depression and spiritual darkness. To “Go!” in this time means not to trudge forth independently on my crutches, but to be still as God and others “Go” on my behalf. I am grateful for this Lenten lesson: that even as our bodies and spirits are broken, our faith can make us well. As our part of the body of Christ is broken, as Christ’s own body was broken, other parts of the body will make us well. Thanks be to God.