We sat in the room for what seemed like a long time, waiting for the doctor. Paperwork done, vitals checked, chart in the holder just outside the closed door. We had no idea what he’d look like – we’d only heard recommendations. That he was the one to see in town. That he could help with a fairly rare problem that most docs aren’t comfortable treating. We hoped he was nice, in the way that we experience nice… since you just never know.
After some basic review of the essentials, he asked “So… what is it that you want me to do for you?”
Bartimeaus had been hanging around that gate for most of his life. It pretty much was his life. Given that Bartieaus was blind, there wasn’t much else he could do. He’d get to the gate, find his usual spot, and start calling out for alms. Back when he was younger his parents had taken him to see miracle men, so-called “healers.” They may have been able to help some people, but never “blind Bartimeaus” as the kids called him. When he heard about this rabbi called Jesus who had been preaching and teaching in the area, how he’d been healing people, there was a little part of his heart that leaped. A very small part, very quickly pushed back in its place.
It took B a while to answer. I wanted to call out on her behalf. I wanted to speak up, and yet I needed to hear her say it. You see, this journey wasn’t just about one trip across town to one doctor. It was about 3 years and thousands of miles in the car visiting psychologists and psychiatrists. It was about multiple stays in a psych ward because suicide seemed preferable to being around people. It was about dropping a thousand little hints that a parents who are just trying to figure out how to do life and raise a teen are too obtuse to see. But mostly it was about finally finding a therapist who got us into this room.
That little part of Bartimeaus’ heart – that part that really wanted to believe that Jesus healed lepers and could make the blind see – leaped again when word came that he was in the neighborhood. So he couldn’t help but cry out when the Rabbi walked by. This is how Blind Bartimeaus came to be face to face with Jesus.
“What is it that you want me to do for you?”
Well, that should be perfectly obvious. The snickers around him made clear others had the same thought. What do I want you to do? “Sir, I want to see!”
But what Bartimeaus actually said in that short and obvious little sentence went so much farther than sight. If he could see, then he could work. If he could work, he could have a family, go to worship, contribute to the community, be a person again. Not just Timeaus’ blind son. And his parents – well there would be no more speculation about the sins they or their parents committed that were visited on their child. They would be able to worship freely without wondering if some other curse would befall their family.
B eventually got to it. And what she asked for was equally simple – medication. But what she wanted was to see. To see herself in the mirror the way she sees herself in her mind’s eye. But the healing this medication will eventually bring is so much more. It is life-altering and life-giving. If she can see herself, she can believe that college, job and family are part of her future. And maybe that part of her heart so injured by God’s people would begin to heal enough that faith would be real again.
What is it that you want me to do for you?
I want to see the world through your eyes.
Eyes that flashed with anger at the misuse of God’s house.
Eyes that stared down the accusers, reminding them that they too had sin stains on their hearts.
Eyes that held the gaze of his mother as she wept at the foot of the cross.
Eyes that told Peter that a lifetime of feeding your sheep was better than his best day fishing and that he was loved.
Eyes that saw the broken hearts behind the eyes that sought healing and hope.