Today has been a most unusual day.
It began when a crowd came past and started discussing me as if I wasn’t even there. It was the usual tiresome debate about who had sinned and caused my blindness - my parents or I. The remarkable part was the man, Jesus, saying that we weren’t to blame and then telling me to close my eyes as he rubbed something wet and warm onto them.
“Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam,” he told me quietly.
So now we’re jostling our way through the crowd towards the Pool. My eyes feel dry and itchy, but I’m too scared to touch them.
“We’re here, Eliel. Careful, the ground in uneven,” Isaac says, as he helps me to the edge of the water.
I go down on my knees on the cold stone, feeling Isaac’s arm supporting me. I cup some water into my hands and splash it onto both eyes, rubbing, what Isaac said was mud, off them.
Then I open my eyes. Brightness sears through my head.
I close them quickly.
“Eliel. What is it?”
I am scared to open them again, scared of the light and the pain it brought, but even more scared that I am imagining this and that the next time it will be dark once more.
I open them again carefully - first into thin slits and then ever wider. The pain blazes behind my eyes, but I have spent a lifetime in darkness and don’t want to spend another moment there.
Around me I see a riot of colour and movement, astounding and confusing, more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. My eyes rove around, trying to make sense of it, trying to distinguish objects out of the pulsating chaos.
Isaac! I look at my cousin for the first time and reach out to him. As my fingers explore the familiar contours of his face, I say the words under my breath: “Beard…mouth...ears.”
It strikes me as funny that I am able to identify the surprise on his face and I start to laugh, until the tears haze over his beautiful features.
“I can see you, Isaac. I can see!”
He grabs my hands and we jump up together, Isaac shouting now.
“God be praised! He sees!”
Yesterday I thought I would never feel sorrow again. I felt like a child exploring the world for the very first time. Every flower, every tree, my mother, father, ants, clouds – I soaked it all in, named it and marvelled at its splendour.
Yet here I am, one day later, more of an outcast than I ever was before. Even though I was blind I could still worship God at the temple, but now I sit against its towering wall, able to admire its magnificent façade, but never again able to set foot in it.
Everything changed this morning when I was taken to the Pharisees. Their faces were stern, reflecting none of the joy and wonder I’d seen yesterday. They asked me what had happened and who had made the miracle mud. I told them the story several times, but they wouldn’t believe me. They argued loudly amongst themselves about Jesus healing me on the Sabbath and seemed angry when I said Jesus was a prophet. They even interrogated my parents.
Again they called me to tell them the story. I probably shouldn’t have asked if they wanted to become his disciples too. What insults they hurled at me then! When I said that Jesus must have come from God they threw me out of the temple, cutting me off from my God and people for the rest of my life.
Now I sit, head bowed, in deep gloom.
The man standing there is a stranger, although his voice sounds achingly familiar. His eyes are full of warmth as he holds out his hand to help me up.
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ he asks.
The question is a strange one, but it stirs a yearning deep inside me.
“Show him to me, Sir, so that I can believe.”
“You have seen him, Eliel. In fact,” his face breaks into a smile, “he is speaking to you right now.”
Suddenly I know who he is and radiant joy floods over me, illuminating the darkness of my heart. I sink to his feet and whisper: “Lord, I believe.”
And here, right outside the temple, I worship my Lord Jesus, the Light-Giver.
The biblical account of Jesus physically and spiritually healing the man who was blind from birth is found in John 9.
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