My younger brother and I would come home after school, eat a snack, do our homework, and fight like cats and dogs. When my mother got home from work, she’d practically pull her hair out at my lack of attention to the needs of the house—dishes in the sink, shoes by the door, the kitchen table littered with school books, and clean, dry clothes still hanging on the line (yes, you young things, there was a time when we actually hung our clothes out to dry).
I told her I never saw those needs. And truthfully, I really didn’t.
Now as the parent of a pre-teen, I’m a little disturbed because apparently I’m channeling my mother. I remember my teenage blindness, but as an adult find it unfathomable how my daughter can’t see her mountain of dirty laundry growing exponentially, the toothpaste crust coating the bathroom sink, or the foul debris of flossing flecks on the mirror.
More, I have next to no patience when I ask her to do something, she replies in the affirmative, then I come back 20 minutes later and it’s not done. With my hands running dangerously through my thinning hair, I ask why the chore isn’t completed. She responds that she didn’t hear me.
So when I read about Jesus in Mark 8:17-21 questioning his disciples’ ability to see and hear things that are right in front of their noses, I get it. From a few handfuls of bread and fish, he’d just fed first 5,000 people, then 4,000. Then his guys witnessed him surfing serenely on the Sea of Galilee without a board. Now he starts talking about the “yeast of the Pharisees” and they’re paranoid he’s accusing them of not bringing enough bread.
No wonder Jesus was so irked. He was damned if he did a miracle (or three) because his disciples still didn’t believe in him, and damned if he didn’t perform on command for the Pharisees of Dalmanutha from vs. 12.
I’m embarrassed to say that I too can get so focused on my present fears, failures, and frustrations that I miss the everyday miracles that occur around me all the time—the persistent thump-thump thump-thump of my own heartbeat, the intricate pattern on a single green leaf, the indescribable perfection of my children’s hugs, the continuously fluctuating states of a basic element like water, and a night skyful of stars.
Bottom line, I forget how powerful Jesus is. Not only did he calm the tiny Sea of Galilee with a hand, but he fashioned all the oceans of the world with a word. Not only did he heal the blind, deaf, and diseased, he thwarted, foiled, and outwitted Death, Satan, and the demonic host. Not only did he reunite Lazarus with his sisters and widows with their dead sons, he built the only bridge for all God’s children to find their way back to the Father.
With my daughter’s temporary pre-teen myopia, I have to patiently reveal her blinders to her and then show her how to take them off. With her selective deafness, I have to teach her how to consciously remove the worldly wax from her ears, i.e., learn the difference between hearing and listening.
I’d like to have all my hair when my daughter leaves home but can’t help wondering when I leave this world and finally face the Father who has been abundantly patient with me, if I won’t be blinded by the brilliance of his presence reflecting off his bald pate.