John field notes 3d: Between prayers

There’s blindness, half-blindness, and sight:

[Elisha] offered this prayer: ‘Lord, open his eyes and let him see.’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw the hills covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  As the Aramaeans came down towards him, Elisha prayed to the Lord: ‘Strike this host, I pray, with blindness’; and they were struck blind as Elisha had asked. Elisha said to them, ‘You are on the wrong road; this is not the town. Follow me and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.’ And he led them to Samaria. (1 Kings 6:17 – 19, REB)

The reader of 1Kings is in sight’s middle kingdom, an interregnum of half-light. Only through prayer do we see what Elisha sees.

We’re also in sight’s middle kingdom in John, seeing more than some and less than others.  We are the servants at the wedding, privy to the miracle (unlike the wedding’s officer) but not privy to what Mary and Jesus’ conversation points to.

John’s reader sees men as trees, walking.  Indeed, the reader exists between Jesus’ two prayers as much as between Elisha’s:

And they brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.

Taking the blind man’s hand he led him out of the village and spitting in his eyes and laying hands on him he questioned him “Do you see anything?”

Looking up he said “I see men that look like trees walking.”

So again he put his hands on his eyes.

Then he looked hard, was restored and saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22 – 25, Reynolds Price, Three Gospels)

I’m heartened that Elisha’s and Jesus’ prayers are answered. It’s not the men’s influence, however, but their creativity that gets me.

[I’m reading John’s gospel. My reactions here vacillate between notes — a list of impressions — and something less sketchy. A note on nomenclature: the note number in my post’s title indicates the chapter of John’s material I’m reacting to. A title’s letter, though, differentiates the post from earlier posts about that chapter. “John field note 2c,” then, is my third post about something in John’s second chapter. N.B.: 12a may precede 3d: I skip around.]


  1. I hang my head. I know almost nothing about Tibetan Buddhism. But I believe I understand you: I often recall what you reported your friend Michael as (ruefully) saying once: all of us Americans are Christians. (Even I fight it.)

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