Each September, a parishioner who is an avid baseball fan invites me to go watch a baseball game with him at the National Stadium in DC. He picks me up and drives the distance. We chat along the way about any and all things: personal, church, politics, societal issues, college, and what-have-you. Last Wednesday was no different. Although we missed the two years of COVID, we had a wonderful time together.
As we made our way to DC, he told me a story about a friend who is blind. He is not only blind, but he also likes to run, and the two of them run together. I became more than a little curious. How can he run? How does he run? I have never seen the blind walking without a long, white cane, but to run? That must take some miracle. He simply responded that the blind runner puts his hand on the shoulder of their running partner, and then runs after him.
"Does he not fall?" I asked.
"Well, sometimes it happens. But that happens when he unconsciously runs a little faster and leaves him behind." He went on to add that the blind runner is far more forgiving because when he runs faster than him, he doesn’t take it personally. He forgives and they continue their run.
Don’t you want to be in a relationship where forgiveness repairs all that is broken?
"Aren’t we all blind runners?" I asked myself. "Don’t we all need someone on whose shoulders we can rest our hands as we run?" I continued. Not that we are incapable of running; far from that. We are more than capable of running but the question is, can we see? Can we see our way around while we are running? Can we identify the potential dangers on our run? Can we run by ourselves? If we cannot run by ourselves, do we have friends who are willing to run with us? Do we accept help? Do we accept a particular kind of help? Do we offer help?
In a sense, the question ought to be - do we really want to see?
There’s a story of blind Bartimaeus who was sitting by the roadside begging for alms when he heard a commotion around him. He asked what was going on. Someone responded that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Without any hesitation, Bartimaeus began to scream “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Those who heard his pleas were not terribly pleased with his shouts. What was the Son of David to do with a blind man?
But in spite of being asked to shut up, Bartimaeus kept screaming all the more - he had found someone on whose shoulders he could lay his burden. Why should he stop screaming? Amidst all the noise, Jesus heard him and invited him over. He then asked Bartimaeus “What do you want me to do for you?” His response was straight to the point: “Lord, let me recover my sight.”
Bartimaeus’ prayerful request speaks to all our longings - whether we consider ourselves blind or not, healthy or not, destitute or not, hopeless or not, we carry with us a particular need for which we may require a shoulder upon which we may lay our hands.
In the next few days, each parishioner will receive a letter from Christ Church inviting us to consider being the shoulder upon which Christ Church may lay the hands. The interesting twist is that Christ Church is also the shoulder upon which you and many others lay your hands.
A few days ago, we received an email from a lady who needed a prayer shawl (thanks to the Prayer Shawl ladies). Kathy Lyon, our Lay Pastoral Care Coordinator, thinking that the lady lived nearby, reached out to her to inquire about her address so she may drop off the prayer shawl. To her utter surprise, this lady lived all the way in Idaho. She had visited our website and read that we offer prayer shawls to parishioners, so they may feel the warmth of all our prayers, love, and God’s healing touch. She requested a prayer shawl, and Kathy has since mailed her one.
Who would have thought that someone in Idaho would be checking our website? Technology has delivered our ministries to your doorstep and to those of many people. But this ministry is made possible because you are the shoulder upon which Christ Church depends to be a shoulder to all blind runners, to this woman in Idaho, and to many more like her.
Like Bartimaeus, I want to see. But like the parishioner who takes me to the ball game, the reality is that it is not enough simply to see; it is more than enough to be that shoulder upon which the blind runner lays his hands to run because you can see.
May you lend your shoulder to receive the hand of a blind runner.