Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Blind Leading the Blind

The first person I saw for spiritual direction in Richmond was (and still is) legally blind.  I met her when I made my Cursillo weekend back in June 2006 at Mary Mother of the Church Abbey.  She was on the spiritual direction team.  Her faith and her terrific sense of humor inspired me.  Hearing the story about her giving her grandsons a lesson in charity was the clincher we have kindred spirits.  She, too, recognizes what great spiritual directors kids can be and is willing to learn from and be challenged by them.  

“If you have two of something, you should give one to the person who doesn’t have any,” she told her grandsons.   

“How many pairs of sunglasses do you have, Grandma?” one of the young boys asked her.

Since she was and still is a fashionista, she had several pairs.  That’s when she realized it would be wise to take the Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) course developed and offered by Monsignor Chester Michael.  If you’re going to talk the talk, then you best walk the walk. 

Something that still cracks me up about my friend is that she always looks cute and is very much into fashion.  I’m pseudo-blind without my contacts in or glasses on, but most of the time I still choose comfort over cuteness when it comes to fashion.  Not this lady.  She watches shows like What Not to Wear, and she knows which of her friends to go shopping with or ask for suggestions of what to pair together in her closet.

She’s well-read, well-spoken, loves learning, laughing, and spending time with family and friends.  Without ever looking at me, she could really see me.  In one of her talks that weekend, she shared a story about knowing you’re loved and cared for even in the dark. 

When their firstborn was a baby, her husband went to work when it was light outside.  When he returned home in the evening, not a single light was on in the entire house.  He was worried something was wrong. 

It hadn’t occurred to my friend to turn any lights on.  Even though in the dark, their daughter knew she was loved and would be taken care of.  After that, my friend got in the habit of turning lights on for her daughter’s benefit.  That story and this woman really impressed me. 

During dark periods in our lives, we can become almost paralyzed by fear and worry.  We’re not sure which way to go.  We have no idea who or what is in the room.  It’s unsettling to say the very least.  Since we are God’s children, we don’t need to be afraid.  Even when it seems as though all of the lights are out and only darkness prevails, He is there with us.  Just like the Bible says: “In Him there is no darkness at all.  The day and the night are both alike.”

In the same way that my friend’s daughter rested in her mother’s arms and knew she was loved and would have her needs met even in the dark, we are invited to trust that God will lead us through difficult circumstances and periods in our lives. 

Do you trust your guide?

I remember playing the game with a partner where you each take turns being blindfolded.  The person leading had to talk the blindfolded friend through a walk outside, letting them know when to step up or down, move to the right or left, etc.  I worried I would get paired up with a jokester who would lead me into a patch of poison ivy or laugh hysterically as I fell down a set of stairs.  Fortunately, neither of those things ever happened (while I was blindfolded, anyway). 

We need to pick the people we follow and spend time with very carefully.  I felt comfortable trusting my friend as a spiritual companion, because she is a life-long learner, humble enough to know she doesn’t know everything and is still growing in the faith herself.  Her active prayer life, dedication to family and friends, and love of books made me feel that I could trust her. 

During my time meeting with her, she recommended a number of fabulous books for me to read that enhanced my spiritual journey and faith walk.  One she hesitated to recommend to me because she is friends with the author.  She feared I might suspect she was more interested in plugging her friend’s book than suggesting I read something that would really speak to where I was at that time.  She was wrong.  I knew I could trust her book recommendations would be authentic and honest.

Sabbath Presence is a beautifully written book based on the theme that was chosen for my Cursillo weekend “Be Still and Know.”  I am someone who always feels like I should be doing something.  I have often had to fight against the notion that my worth comes from what I have done or am doing rather than from God, who created me (and each one of us) in His image of love

This book changed my life.  It’s one of the very few books I read twice in a row, soaking up the wisdom and allowing it to sink in.  My first time through, I skimmed over the reflection questions, but I didn’t spend a lot of time with them.  My second time through, I took quiet time to journal and really meditate on each of the questions. 

I can’t think of a more perfect book for me to have read at that time. It’s very unlikely I would have come across it if not for a blind woman I saw for spiritual direction.  True sight into the soul is in the heart of those open to the Holy Spirit.  

Prayer: Lord, please help us become more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit moving in and through us.  Guide us to a deeper awareness of and appreciation for Your Presence in others as well as ourselves.  Show us how to see beyond appearances to what truly matters and is of eternal value.  Give us the courage to face our own blind spots, accept Your forgiveness, and mercy.  Amen.

Questions for Reflection, Discussion, or Journaling: What do we block out or miss when we get caught up in appearances?  Have we ever judged incorrectly because we have made assumptions based on the way a person or situation looks?  How likely are we to ask questions and really listen to: a friend, a spouse, a child, a co-worker, God, or even our own inner voice of wisdom?  What can we do to become better listeners? 
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