“And Jesus sternly warned them: ‘See that no one knows about this!’ But they went out and spread the word of him throughout the land.” (Matthew 9:30-31)
Jesus had just restored the sight of two blind men, healed them, and then tells them not to tell anyone. The blind men, in their joy, ignored his instructions to remain silent.
I have been healed so many times, of so many things, and blessed in innumerable ways. And although Jesus never told me not to tell, I have basically kept most of those things to myself.
When people have asked me to share something about my spiritual experiences, my attitude has usually been, “this is my experience; get your own.” I feared sharing my story, feared judgment and skepticism. “Who does she think she is to be so blessed? Isn’t she the Madeline who grew up on the east side of Detroit? What makes her think she is so special that God would bless her so abundantly?”
Years ago, on the first night of a graduate school class on the Mystics, the professor divided us into small groups and told us to share our mystical experiences. The room was completely silent for a few minutes, and I finally broke the silence in my small group. “Ok, I’ll start,” I offered. I then shared a mystical vision I had had a few years earlier. Midway through sharing my mystical vision, I could see eyes widening. I trudged on to finish the vision and then said, “None of you has had that kind of mystical experience, right?” None had, and I felt my oddness. Who has mystical visions?
A few years later, I met a missionary priest who had lived in Central America and witnessed horrible atrocities. Upon returning to the States, he spoke openly about what he had seen. When I heard his story, I asked him how he got the courage to speak out. “God gave me these experiences so that I could tell others what is happening. It is my responsibility to share what I have seen,” he told me. “I don’t feel that responsibility,” I replied. “One day you will,” he predicted.
He was like the blind men in Matthew’s gospel, given new sight and spreading the word. I have been like the third servant in another story in Matthew’s gospel about hidden talents (25:14-30); out of fear, I have buried what God has given me.
During this Advent season, as I prepare to receive the new life promised at Christmas, I pray for the courage to be like the healed blind men and the missionary priest, to spread the word about the abundance of goodness in our world and the many ways God has blessed me.
This blog does exactly that, Madeline! You find goodness and blessings in everyday, ordinary things.
Thanks Libby. I think of the blog as a first step and now that I have the habit of writing and posting, I think other writings will be easier (I hope). I am editing the book from when Jim was sick, which is really about our spiritual journey through his illness and death.
Thanks, Madeline! I feel I am very blessed by knowing you! You are a talented and wonderful writer — you make it seem easy (which I am sure it is not). THank you!
Actually, Jean, it is relatively easy for me. I think that because I have been writing in my head for my whole life, once I started putting the words on paper, they just fly out. Thanks
I have to say, Madeline, that I’ve never really felt that you hide your faith. There may be experiences you are reluctant to share, but your faith shines as steadily as a beacon from a lighthouse. I don’t think we can ever really “hide” faith; it’s there to see in our simplest words and actions. And through the years, I’ve seen yours.
Thanks John for the clarification. I think you are right. It is the experience piece that I can find difficult to share, especially when it seems out of the ordinary. I remember Jim and I talking about a friend who was questioning her faith and I asked Jim if he thought I might ever question my faith and he did not hesitate to say, “never.” I was stunned he was so certain. Thanks for the affirmation.
I wonder if your hesitance isn’t because mystics often know a reality that is far more radical, passionate, intense, even playful (I get that from my current reading of the Persian mystic, Hafiz) than our usual “nice” “neat” adult lives? The Mystery might just “blow us out of the water” so to speak!!
Pat, when I read your comment, I flashed back to times when people have done double-takes at things I have said. The reality I see is often just a bit of a different slant. When I first met Annalise in her synoptic gospels grad class, we read Mark’s gospel and I asked a question which made perfect sense to me. She said, “That is the question liberation theologians are asking.” (this was in the early 1990s) and other classmates said, “How did you know that?” I just knew.