Years ago, a boy was collecting berries in the woods near his home. He was concentrating on filling his bucket – and mouth – with the delicious fruit and not paying attention to how deep he was going into the forest. The boy didn’t notice the dark clouds forming on the horizon. Then he heard crashes of thunder. Suddenly he realized that he was lost. Darkness enveloped the woods. The terrified youngster started to run – with no sense of where he was going.
Then he remembered what his parents had taught him: When you’re lost, stop and be still, look around, and listen. So the boy stopped running and stood still. And he observed the lightning strikes illuminating the forest landscape. With each lightning flash he was able to see a bit farther ahead and walk a little closer to his destination until he found his way home, guided by the storm that had, at first, frightened him.
“Seeing” and “light” are key images of today’s Gospel for this Sunday in mid-Lent. Jesus cures a man born blind – but the greater miracle is opening the eyes of those around him to “see” the presence of God in their midst. Terrified of the storm, the little boy remembers his parents’ wise advice: Stop and look. See the light and make your way towards it. The Christ of Lent is that light that illuminates those times and places in which we can realize the love of God in our midst. Like the Jewish leaders and the temple officials, we sometimes become so obsessed trying to find God where God is not that we fail to see God where God actually is. We desperately want to know where God is when tragedy befalls us; we live our lives taking comfort in the erroneous notion that God is found only at certain times, in the rituals and pious practices our religion specifies. The reality is that God is most profoundly present in the simple, ordinary doings of life, in the kindness and love of others, in life itself and the gifts of the earth to sustain that life. May God grant us the vision that the blind man receives in today’s Gospel: to see the love of God present in all things.