Connecting the Dots

 

As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10: 46-51

 

May is a very special month in my life. Not only is my birthday in May, but also my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. At the opening of my spiritual direction session recently when my director asked me how I was, I told her I felt saturated in celebration. I went on to say that it was as if God just showered me with so much love throughout the month that I couldn’t help but take it in. She, more than many, knows my long journey toward greater integration as an Enneagram Two, an important part of which has been God’s gentle process of helping me learn how to receive. As I shared a bit more, she said it sounded like I had spent the month marinating in love and that my heart had become deliciously tenderized! Of course she then asked me to expound upon this.

 

I happily responded with various excerpts from the month, one of which related to a joint 60th birthday celebration I enjoyed with four of my closest friends from high school. All but one of us live in the Twin Cities and the one who lives out of town was planning a visit, so we decided we’d craft a wonderful weekend of merry making. Shortly after we finalized our plans, I woke up one morning–which is often when God speaks most clearly to me, before my own wheels get turning– with the realization that we hadn’t planned anything for Saturday morning. I immediately had the distinct sense that it would be my joy to share part of who I am and the work I do with these dear friends by offering to do a small retreat at my church. None of them attended church regularly and none of them had ever attended a retreat, but that didn’t deter me. At the same time, I didn’t want to overwhelm them so I went to my computer and emailed them the idea I had been given of gathering that Saturday morning for a mini-retreat entitled Sixty Minutes on Turning Sixty. To my surprise, within a very short time, they had all responded with a resounding “Yes!”

 

It was this amazing experience (which lasted well over an hour!) that I was enthusiastically sharing with my director when she offered a deeply meaningful observation. In essence, she said that beyond the wonderful details of the retreat, she noticed that I became quite “loud”, animated, and enthusiastic as I described this experience and that she rarely observed me being “loud.” I, too, had noticed this and felt quite sheepish as she was pointing it out.  She went on to surprise me with a question about whether this being “loud,” or giving full voice to something, might be a clue for me as to when I am living out of my true, God-given, and most authentic self.

 

Her question served to help me connect with another powerful experience I’d had the previous Sunday in church where our pastor was preaching on the Blind Bartimaeus passage from Mark. There are a handful of Scripture passages in this last year that continue to call to me and this is one of them. Each time I sit with it, I usually find myself in tears, in awe, and aware of some new perspective. Early on I gave much prayerful consideration to the places in my life where I felt sidelined, blind. Later, I was struck by the fact that, just moments after the crowd had attempted to quiet Bartimaeus, Jesus involves those very same people in calling Bartimaeus forward, though Jesus could have easily called him forward himself. That caused me to think about the importance of community in my life and how critical it is to discern which voices are truly for me and which are not. I’ve also devoted much thought and prayer to exactly what cloaks I have worn in my life, what they have signified, and what it has meant for me to throw them aside. Of course, with each reading, I continue to sit with and deepen my response to the ultimate question Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

Well aware that there were still several parts of this passage to which I had not yet given careful attention, I was interested in hearing it again to see what God might stir in me this time. Much to my surprise, nothing I would have expected spoke to me, but instead a small part of the passage I had never really noticed before. “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” There it was, an invitation to deeper healing, and it involved someone being “loud!”

 

Raised to respect all authority, to be a rule follower, to be compliant, to not rock the boat, and quite a pleaser and a first rate accommodator in my own right, I saw in a new way how susceptible I have been to the voices of the crowd in my life, be they the voices of parents, family, teachers, friends, or employers, well intended or otherwise. Far more than I would care to admit or even realized, these voices have frequently been more of my God than God. So when I step into this Scripture passage, right into the cloak of Bartimaeus, and I hear that Jesus is passing by, I, too, begin by shouting with all my might: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” But that is where the similarity can too easily end for me. When the crowd rebukes me and tells me to be quiet, I have too often either acquiesced or simply silenced myself with these types of thoughts: they must know more than I do; I shouldn’t upset him; maybe I don’t understand this as clearly as she does; this is probably not worth it; I don’t want them to feel badly; maybe I didn’t really feel or sense what I thought I did; good Christians wouldn’t cause a disruption…..

 

Bartimaeus challenges this thinking when, in the face of rebuke, he shouts all the more loudly. My spiritual director challenges this thinking when she asks me to consider the connection between a God-inspired idea, my delight in bringing it to be, and my loud declaration of its goodness. For me, then, there seems to be an invitation to learn what it means to be “loud” in my pursuit of Jesus, not allowing anything to stand between us; and what it means to joyfully declare the good works He does in and through me.

 

Gracious and loving God, help me to learn how to flex a new muscle, to cast off all that hinders me from drawing closer to you, to be loud in my listening for and pursuit of you. Amen.

 

 

Questions for Reflection

~As you reflect on your pursuit of and response to Jesus, where have you allowed yourself to be quieted and why?

~Have you been quieted more by the voices of others or by your own internal voice? What more do you need to be aware of about this?

~Around what issue or experience are you being invited to cry out more loudly?

~What are the risks and hopes you have in doing this?

 

 

Warm greetings! I am Tracy Mooty, lover of Divine Mystery, my family, our pups, and dear friends. I am one who enjoys listening intently, making meaning, and deepening my capacity for joy. Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago, and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure! Thank you, Janet!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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