4 Lent A – April 3, 2011 – Look for the Light
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-6, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41
A few years ago a man started playing a violin in a Washington Metro station. In 45 minutes only six people stopped to listen. No one noticed it was the world famous Joshua Bell playing beautifully, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
You might be saying, well, if it were hip hop or blues or jazz more people would have stopped. Good point. The Washington Post sponsored this experiment precisely to learn about people’s perceptions, tastes and priorities. One conclusion from the study suggested that if people do not take time to notice the beautiful things around them how much else could they be missing in life.
The gospel of John deals with the issues of an early Christian community which, having been expelled from the synagogues and still being persecuted, felt alienated from the world and hostile toward outsiders.  The story about the man born blind is a counterpoint and reminds us of last week’s gospel about Photina the Samaritan woman. This week the blind man did the same thing she did. Both of them took life changing risks in recognizing Jesus as the savior.
The story invites us to reflect on how we perceive what is going on around us. We spend most of our day interacting with designed environments: clothing, packaging, commercials, news media and devices plugged into our ears. Some studies tell us most humans miss about 90% of what is going on in their daily routines. People in that Washington subway were too much in a hurry, distracted or busy to notice something beautiful. The more we get overloaded with tasks and information, the more we disconnect from others.
In the words of Annie Dillard, “Beauty and grace are performed whether we will or sense them. The least thing we can do is try to be there.”  God is present to us all the time whether we want God there or not. The least we can do is recognize God’s presence in many, sometimes surprising, ways — in changing seasons, little children and elderly parents, in wealthy and poor persons; in far away strangers and close friends, in good times and in bad. We can be more aware of this ever present, all loving God by slowing down, prioritizing tasks and learning that we cannot do everything.
Some say this is unrealistic. Multitasking is how we get a lot done and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Yes, these arguments may be true. However, what are we missing by not trying to alter our priorities, tasks and workloads?
In the first reading David, a ruddy shepherd, was the least likely candidate to lead God’s people. He was probably quite content tending to his sheep. Yet, God chose him to do something that radically changed his life. We may not get to do all that we want to do in life and sometimes things don’t go our way. What matters is that we do not ignore the presence of God in all that surrounds us. Then, we can be a light to those around us.
Annie Dillard also wrote, “I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.” There are three people in our congregation who are doing exactly that. Ann, Kelly and Rob are fast approaching membership in the Catholic church. Attentive to the brightness of the Son of God their response is to take a bold life changing step, to be lights to the world.
You and I can follow the same light to see a world of new possibilities presented by God. Like David, the Samaritan woman and the man born blind we can find a way in the busy subways of our lives to notice the beautiful things around us.
1 Brown, Raymond. The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist) 1979, 72
2 Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (NY: Harper) 1974