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A pound of white beans for the blind man, please

by davesandel on November 15th, 2021

Monday, November 15, 2021                         (today’s lectionary)

A pound of white beans for the blind man, please

Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.

History. Mexico and the renegade Republic of Texas. In 1842 many semi-military members of a raiding expedition are captured by the far-better equipped Mexican Army.  176 of them escape, only to be captured again and this time, sentenced to death. But the Mexican general-in-charge refuses to carry out this order, and so begins the Black Bean episode, reprised in Larry McMurtry’s historical fiction (sort-of historical anyway) Dead Man’s Walk, first of the four novels in his Lonesome Dove series.

Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may keep your laws.

Seventeen black beans were placed in a bag of 159 white beans. Those men who picked the black beans would be executed, and the others kept for the questionable mercies of Mexican prisons. Do it, boys. You have no choice. Stick your hand into that bag and pull out a bean. Can you feel a difference in their coats? Are the black beans bigger than the white? Is it better to wait till the end, or pull out your bean at the beginning?

I am attacked by malicious persecutors who are far from your law. Give me life, O Lord.

Bigfoot Wallace, one of the most famous Texas Rangers, survived the draw but nearly died in Perote Prison, then lived 47 more years. He did die in 1899, and I saw his grave the other day at the Texas State Cemetery. He spent his last years as a “mellow and convivial soul sitting in a roomy rawhide-bottomed chair in the shade of his shanty, telling stories from his life.”

Jesus heard the blind man calling and stopped. He asked the blind man, what do you want me to do for you? And the blind man replied, O Lord, please let me see. Then Jesus said, have sight, for your faith has saved you. And the man could see immediately, and followed Jesus, giving all glory to God.

I imagine that he, too, lived into his dotage, and even as his eyes began again to fade, this man once blind also sat in the shade of his shanty and told the stories of his life. Once I was blind, and then I met Jesus, and I could see. He asked me, oh yes he asked me what did I want him to do for me. He respected me up one side and down the other. And he never pretended to heal, he just did it. Nor did he have pretensions, his humility and confidence poured out. Onto me, they did. They just poured out. O, so beautiful.

Suddenly, the old man could see, and his life would never be the same. Oh, sure, regaining his sight started it all. But what he remembered every single day was the way he and Jesus just seemed to get along. Almost like they were buddies, friends, family. Jesus, the firstborn among many brothers, his brother too. He would do anything for Jesus.

Many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts, and they preferred to die rather be defiled or to profane the holy covenant. And they did die. Terrible affliction fell upon Israel.

All the stories of fear and trembling, of suffering and righteous indignation, of humility and courage and healing, and soon at Friday’s funeral another story will be brought forth. Remember Job? Will Pastor Rogers bring our memories of Angelina Sandel into the ring with the stories of Job?

I am nothing but skin and bones; I escape only by the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me.

What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked the blind man. Did he ask Mom, there at the end on Wednesday morning? He does not, at this moment in his life, seem to be asking Job. No matter.

For I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh will I see God; I myself will see him with my OWN EYES, I and not another! O, how my heart yearns within me. (from Job 19)

God is alive, let his enemies be scattered. On this day, so much like every other day, will I pick a white bean or a black?

No matter.

 (1 Maccabees 1, Psalm 119, John 8, Luke 18)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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