Seeing Clearly

February 16, 2022
Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are around the theme of our spiritual senses.

James tells us to listen, look, see, and act on the Word planted within our hearts. Once again, he gives us great images to help our understanding.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.

James 1:3-24

If anyone thinks he is religious
and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.

James 1: 26

In our Gospel, once again our dear, earthy Jesus heals someone in a deeply human way. Jesus takes the blind man aside, holding his hand to lead him. As he did in a passage recently, Jesus spits on his fingers and massages the blind man’s eyes.

The man tries to work with Jesus, exclaiming that he sees “people like trees walking”.

I’ve always loved that line because it makes me feel like I’m right there, in that little dusty village of Bethsaida, listening like the rest of the stunned crowd to the man’s amazement!


As we pray this morning, we might wonder what Jesus said back to that overwhelmed man as they sat together, helping him to learn how to see. What might Jesus say to us as he lifts one of our many blindnesses from our hearts?


Prose: from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

(This passage is from one of my all-time favorite books written by Annie Dillard whom I think of as the “Mary Oliver” of prose. Here’s the way wikipedia describes the book:)

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a 1974 nonfiction narrative book by American author Annie Dillard. Told from a first-person point of view, the book details an unnamed narrator's explorations near her home, and various contemplations on nature and life. The title refers to Tinker Creek, which is outside Roanoke in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Dillard began writing Pilgrim in the spring of 1973, using her personal journals as inspiration. Separated into four sections that signify each of the seasons, the narrative takes place over the period of one year.
The book records the narrator's thoughts on solitude, writing, and religion, as well as scientific observations on the flora and fauna she encounters. Touching upon themes of faith, nature, and awareness, Pilgrim is also noted for its study of theodicy and the inherent cruelty of the natural world. The author has described it as a "book of theology", and she rejects the label of nature writer.

I think this is a great book to pick up at the beginning of any season of nature or life. The excerpt I chose for today, in honor of the Gospel, is from a chapter entitled ” Seeing”:

A fog that won’t burn away drifts and flows across my field of vision. When you see fog move against a backdrop of deep pines, you don’t see the fog itself, but streaks of clearness floating across the air in dark shreds. So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity. I can’t distinguish the fog from the overcast sky; I can’t be sure if the light is direct or reflected. Everywhere darkness and the presence of the unseen appalls. We estimate now that only one atom dances alone in every cubic meter of intergalactic space. I blink and squint. What planet or power yanks Halley’s Comet out of orbit? We haven’t seen that force yet; it’s a question of distance, density, and the pallor of reflected light. We rock, cradled in the swaddling band of darkness. Even the simple darkness of night whispers suggestions to the mind.

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across and hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. I return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. I return from the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name. Litanies hum in my ears; my tongue flaps in my mouth Ailinon, alleluia! I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.

Music: I Can See Clearly Now – Jimmy Cliff

One thought on “Seeing Clearly

  1. Annie Dillard …one of my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE authors! I love “Pilgrim” and all her books! Thanks Renee for reminding me of the gift she has been in my life! 🙏🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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