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Blind Hope

Expectancy and joy filled my heart as I arrived at Dayspring Silent Retreat Center to lead our first in-person open retreat since the pandemic closed our doors.  The theme was “seeding hope in transition,” a theme that fired my prayer for a long time preceding this October weekend.

What I quickly realized at the start was that there was deeper need in all of us than I had even imagined.  The pandemic has so beat us up that I sensed a new baseline: a common ground of interwoven grief, fear, confusion, and doubt.  On top of that were specific struggles, hard struggles.  I sensed walls of disconnection and resistance blinding our sight.

My hope for all of us shifted from noticing and naming seeds of hope to tending deep ground. The ground needed softening, openings for seeds to land, root and grow.  I was moved, too, and nourished, by the deep longing that was also the ground of this retreat: to come on retreat and voice the need for help and community.  What courage to face into the spiritual struggles of pain, exhaustion, and emptiness so boldly!

Somehow, the goodness of being together and the scripture of creation conspired to break up the hard ground.  The October seeds of Dayspring’s meadows and forests were special assistants, too.  Acorns studded the silence with steady popping. Milkweed, goldenrod and a thousand other winged seeds floated and swirled in the autumn breezes.  All creation conspired to reveal the reality of creativity, in continuity and change.  I remembered and prayed with Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Psalm 3, God acts within every moment and creates the world with each breath, speaking from the center of the Universe in the silence beyond all thought… silently speaking in the depths of the listening heart.

Trust, in all its grace and mystery, began to be palpable in the silence.  Trust began to dispel our blindness and restore our capacity to see seeds of hope. The Gospel story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) clearly names trust as essential.  Blind Bartimaeus hears that the healer is near and shouts for help.  He is encouraged to get up off the ground, for Jesus is calling him.  Immediately he jumps up, throws aside his cloak and hurries to tell Jesus, “I want to see.”   Jesus instantly replies, “Go, your trust has healed you.”  That is the whole story.

With new sight, Bartimaeus continues following Jesus.  I don’t know what Bartimaeus began to see.  I don’t know what I and the other retreatants are seeing now.  The essential thing was to get up off the ground in trust, go to the healing one and ask for sight.  In trust.  And trust the next steps will be given.

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Richard Leslie
Richard Leslie
28 days ago

Thank you Ann Dean. 🙏