When Paul asked in his sermon on Sunday if we had ever experienced being blind, I took it a little personally. You see, a year and a half ago I joined the “50s Club”. My loved ones celebrated me, pampered me and let me know how much they loved me. If I was basing it on the day, my take was that 50 was going to be fabulous! But then, certain other realities started to set in. Along with getting 10,000 mailings from AARP and other advertisers, there were certain things that were not as fabulous as 50 had been made out to be on my special day. Certain things began to ache more than before. Some tones were harder to hear. Certain diets just didn’t drop the weight like before. And my eyes… what was up with the fine print? I resisted (read: denied) the reality of my vision for the better part of the past year and a half, but when it began to affect my night driving, I had to admit that something needed to change. I tried no less than five pairs of trial contact lenses trying to get the best of both near and far vision. To ge the sharpest night vision, I had to submit to what I had been resisting: reading glasses. My new normal came in a package of five at my local Pharmacy. (Side note: five is not enough. I can never find a pair when I need them!) As hard as I resisted it for the last year and a half, the reality was that my new normal was set, whether I liked it or not.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
— John 9:1–7
“New normal” is a term that is getting thrown around a lot right now. And honestly, I don’t like it. To me, accepting life for what it is right now by calling it a new normal feels like throwing in the towel. I am resisting it. I fully understand the need to do the things we are doing. I respect the reason and the victims of a cruel, under-researched infection. I respect the frontline responders. I will do my part, but I miss life in communion with others. In no way will I throw in the towel and accept that this is the new normal. This so-called “new normal” feels like I was robbed. We can probably all think of something that the current state of affairs has taken away from us: a disappointment, a distance from loved ones, a cancelled celebration, maybe even a death. I just cannot accept that this is what our loving God wants for us, for the very nature of the creation of Adam and Eve proves God did not intend for us to be isolated and alone. It makes me think that, if we put it in park here and just resign ourselves to the new normal, Satan will claim victory. My eyes to the world feel a little cloudy right now, and my reading glasses are not helping.
So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”
— John 9:10–11
There is a lot we do not know right now. That can be troubling. But God has a plan. He knows the end of the story, and if we are being honest, so do we… he wins! He loves us, and he wants what is best for us. Perhaps he is using this time to blind us to worldly things and focus us back on the work of his kingdom. Perhaps he is using a soothing balm of time and quiet to calm us, rather than unsettle us. Perhaps God is calling us to focus on what we know to be true, drawing us back to him, so he can anoint us, heal our hearts and, by doing so, heal our land. Perhaps he is reminding us that he, and only he, is the authority in our lives — the one we should cling to, listen to, and submit to. What if this time is our mud and pool of Siloam? And when our eyes clear, and we emerge with a new look on life and the world around us, will we remember the famous words, I was blind, but now I see? What will your eyes see in God’s new normal?