Friday, April 01, 2011

Luke Skywalker and the Spiritual Life

You've heard it said many times, "Seeing is believing." But in the walk of faith, in the realm of the spiritual life (which always envelops and permeates our physical life) the opposite is actually true: "Believing is seeing."

Don't believe me? Stay tuned!

Two weeks ago we heard in Sunday's reading about Abraham's walk of absolute trust. "Go forth to a land that I will show you." In other words, Abraham didn't see it.... yet. And neither do we see this Promised Land... yet. Though we're told the Kingdom of God is among us, and within us, can you put your finger in it? Can you place your hand in its side? Not exactly. But faith can. 

Faith is like Superman's x-ray vision. The only thing blocking its power to "see through" things and events is human pride and self-righteousness. That's our Kryptonite. Our blind spot in the spiritual drive. 

The best things happen when we trust in the dark. When we can't see around the corner. Luke Skywalker closed his eyes before he dropped that photon torpedo that destroyed the Death Star. Elliot closed his eyes and trusted E.T. knew the way home in that classic bike chase, and the two of them suddenly flew over rooftops to freedom just when all seemed lost! Hawkeye's fateful leap through the waterfall into darkness in The Last of the Mohicans seemed utterly foolish but it proved the right thing to do at just the right time. The Indigo Girls sing "It's in our blind trust that Love will find us, just like it has before..."

There is a blind man in this Sunday's gospel. Jesus says it isn't his fault, or his parents fault. As Forrest Gump once said, "It happens." Suffering can blind us, but at the same time, it can give us a deeper vision of life. It's the suffering of the blind man that drew Christ in, after all. Maybe we need to look to those blind spots in our own lives. The tangled webs of our mistakes, the knots of confusion that we can't see a way of unravelling. Don't solutions often come after a good night's sleep.... in darkness? Maybe we should approach these mysteries with eyes closed in faith. The singer-songwriter Nicole Nordeman once sang "Maybe I'd see much better by closing my eyes."

Sometimes it seems God has to do the closing for us to teach us to see in the dark; to see with faith. I don't know why but I've been in the dark and I know it's true. The Pharisees were the only blind people Jesus couldn't cure. They believed they had eyes full of light, full of the Law. Turns out they were full of something else. The problem was their eyes were so full of their own reflection of holiness there was no room for anything else! 

When Luke Skywalker was learning the "Ways of the Force" Obi Wan challenged him to go blind and gave him a helmet. "But with the blast shield down, how am I supposed to see!" he whines. "Trust your feelings Luke! Use the Force!" That's pretty good advice this Lent. But our Master says, "Use your faith!" 

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