For three days [Saul] was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. – Acts 9:9
Well, that was quite a shock.
One moment I was striding, filled with confidence
and rectitude, the next:
Flat on my back, blinded by a light,
deafened by a voice.
I suppose I needed such a shock.
Is there a greater barrier to learning something new
than certainty? I fear not.
I was so certain, knew beyond all doubt, that
this Jesus movement was a fraud.
Well. I learned.
And now I wait and wonder: what is next?
“You will be told.”
Oh, good. And yet not good, for what may I expect
of One whom I oppressed?
Or those who followed him?
How strange to find expansion of the soul
in clouded sight?
I had created my own spirit’s shroud, of course,
but now I see.
Metaphorically, that is.
Now to be truthful, God, to whom I pray
with greater clarity
since vision failed three days ago, I thank you
for this time of rest.
I am not ready for the tasks you might
require of me, or
the penitence I must perform for those
who do not trust me.
Why should they, after all?
I am not ready yet for much beyond
to you, here in this house along the
Straight Street of the city.
Here I will pray and breathe.
And when you find me ready, Lord,
with eyes still dim,
or eyes as comprehending as my soul,
I’ll take your road.
I’ll follow you.
Amidst the daily noises of the street,
what’s that? A knock.
What’s that? The voices by the door.
What’s that? A hand.
A voice that calls me: Brother Saul.
A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:1-20, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year C, Third Sunday of Easter.
The image is The Conversion of St Paul by Caravaggio, found in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Photo by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44143233.
There is some suggestion in the writings of the Apostle Paul (he used that Greek version of the Hebrew Saul when writing his letters in Greek) that he did not fully regain his physical sight after this experience. In 2 Corinthians 12 he spoke of a “thorn in the flesh,” suggesting a disability without describing it. At the close of Galatians (6:11) he wrote, “See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!” Though that might be due to unfamiliarity with using a pen, it might also be because of poor eyesight.