I think I was around 12 yrs. old when mom and dad took our family on one of our rare family vacations. We went to Monmouth Cave in southern Kentucky. It is a magnificent cavern deep deep in the ground filled with stalactites and stalagmites with beautiful crystalline gems flashing brilliant colors.
There are many memories I have of this trip. One which sticks out the most, and one that still speaks to me fifty years later, is the sight of a school of brown trout swimming in an underground stream that flowed through the cave. Generations of these fish had lived on the floor of this darkened cave – – – dark as in pitch black.
The park service had installed lights along a portion of the underground stream allowing visitors a brief glimpse of the fish who otherwise lived in total darkness. Over time something very strange had happened; with absolutely no light penetrating the cave these fish had lost their eyes.
How strange it was to see that milky white membrane over what should have been a dark round fish eye. Over the generations of darkness, nature had seen the futility of sight and basically closed up shop. Use ’em or lose ’em!
You see, of course, the analogy to faith here, right? Faith is a way of seeing how God is present and acting in the world and my life. When we were children it was easy to see God’s handiwork.
Remember?. . . snow flakes, (not one of them the same), the stars at night, the ocean, thunderstorms, babies, kittens, flowers, ice cream, clean sheets, stories at bedtime, Christmas Eve, strong parental arms around them . . . all these wonderful experiences lead a child to know there is a God (most times through you, but sometimes from the Holy Spirit himself.)
A child is a lover of God by nature. It’s what they do. (“Unless you receive the Kingdom of Heaven like a little child you shall not enter.”) Lk 18:17.
But then . . . well, you know. We grow up; get “real”. We see and hear things that shake us, changing the way we view the world. Along with this we discover a part of our- selves that can do bad things. We look around and see a world that doesn’t pause when we stumble and fall. Good people we’ve known have fallen prey to lies and tricks and been changed in the process . . . they’ve “toughened up”.
And God sort of disappears. We can’t see him for the darkness around us. In fact, like the fish we can lose the eyes to see. The sentiment of faith becomes a distant childhood memory of our First Communion or setting up the Nativity Scene. We’ve let darkness put a membrane over our eyes.
So what do we do? Why not do what the blind man did in Luke’s gospel. “He called out, ‘Jesus, have pity on me!'” Lk. 18:35ff. And Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man answered “Lord I want to see again.” To which Jesus replied, “See again! Your faith has saved you.”
It’s really that simple. Acknowledge the fact that you’re blind to the things of God. You can’t see anything but the world and its cynical message—“Good Luck Pal.”
The next step can sometimes feel like falling off a cliff. When, from the center of your being, you gag forth the words, “Lord I want to see again.” Lord help me see you in my life and in my spouse and in my work and in my child and in my trials and . . and . . and.”
God cannot resist this prayer. In time – – – persist! You will hear the Lord, “See Again.”
You are an irreplaceable image of God’s goodness.