The blind girl – 25 October 2021
This picture shows two itinerant beggars resting by a roadside after a rainstorm. The beggars are girls, probably sisters. One can see one is blind. The younger, sighted, sister shades her eyes from the sun, and looks towards a double rainbow.
The girl who is blind sits very still – so still a tortoiseshell butterfly has settled on her shawl. On her lap is a concertina, revealing her skill in music. She tips her head back and feels the warmth of sun on her face (can you feel this with her?) To her right she touches a blade of grass with her fingertips. The sign around her neck says “Pity the Blind” – but seeing that she experiences and ‘perceives’ so much, do you?
The painting is ‘The Blind Girl’ by John Everett Millais (1856).
Best Things dwell out of Sight
The Pearl—the Just—Our Thought.
Most shun the Public Air
Legitimate, and Rare—
The Capsule of the Wind
The Capsule of the Mind
Exhibit here, as doth a Burr—
Germ’s Germ be where?
They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
In fact Mark is telling us that Bartimaeus may not physically see, but he does indeed perceive who Jesus is. He knows Jesus’ true identity, and he has understood what it means to be a follower, a disciple – come as you are, in your poverty and need. Whatever holds you back – shed it, because having Jesus touch your life is worth so much more than this. Jesus speaks to him: Go, your faith has made you well. Bartimaeus has spiritual sight, so Jesus restores his physical sight. His sight comes ‘immediately’ – that word of urgency that we heard again and again through the first chapters of the gospel. Where Jesus is, where he is truly seen and perceived, mercy is experienced ‘immediately’. And Bartimaeus goes, not off into his own life, but to follow Jesus. And we know what this following means – with Jesus to Jerusalem and first the cross, and then the resurrection.
Anne Dyer, sermon on Mark 10