Hello Friends.In the coming week I will show you some of my adventurous weekend. Attached to my message today are a few photos of the first part of the adventure.
Kids, and us doggies for sure, know mud is good. Whether squished between the toes, splashed up from a big puddle, or patted into inedible but indelible “pies,” mud attracts little children as quickly as cupcakes and puppies.
For all of us, after the frozen frostiness of this past Winter, who isn’t looking forward to the Spring softening of hard, unyielding ground. There is something elemental, even primeval about mud. We instinctively recognize that moist, mushy earth is a sign of fruitfulness, fulfillment, and fun.
But if you don’t have melting snow or spring rains to make solid ground into malleable mud, then you have to get water from some other source. In John 9:1-41, John’s detailed re-telling of Jesus healing of a man who had been “born blind,” that water source comes from saliva.
Jesus spits on the ground and “made mud with the salvia,” an action that would delight all children, but was an absolute symbol of uncleanness and pollution to the reigning religious authorities. Blood, sweat, spit, all those “icky” human fluids were considered not just to be unattractive. They were deemed absolutely repulsive and ritually unclean. Spittle was considered to be a pollutant, and even today, to spit upon someone is the ultimate sign of contempt.
But when Jesus encountered the man who was “born blind,” an individual who had been “blind from birth,” someone who had never received the gift of sight, he responds by spitting. We cannot know for sure whether this man had nothing in his eye sockets, just a cavernous hole, or whether his eyes were born deformed and defective. The fact that Jesus’ action recreated the first act of creation, where God creates materiality out of mud, suggests the former, but it is only speculation.
What isn’t speculation is that “in the beginning” God created the cosmos and the earth. Upon the earth the first priority was water in order for life to emerge. It was only after a stream of water rose up from within the ground and watered “the whole face of the earth” (Genesis 2:6) that God gathered together the moistened dirt and “formed Adam” from the clay. The first “mud pie,” made from the creative touch of the divine on clay, that simple combination of dirt and water, resulted in nothing less than the first human being.
Jesus’ mud ball locomotions suggest, as I already suggested, that this man did not just have blind eyes, but that he had no eyes. Jesus didn’t just “heal” his blindness. Jesus created sight — giving eyes to one who had been “born” without eyes. Jesus’ act of combining creative moisture with the dirt of the earth to make miraculous mud was a recreation of the first act of creation. God created life from where there had been nothing. Jesus created eyes from where there had been nothing.
When Jesus spat and made a poultice of salvia and dust, creating a salve that saved a blind man’s spirit and provided him with his first experience of sight, Jesus continued the Creator’s creativity and embodied the essence of divine creativeness.
Yet as with everything that God made good, “mud” had also taken on a bad reputation. The doctor who helped set the leg and sent packing Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, Dr. Samuel Mudd, brought about the curse, “your name is mud!” In Jesus’ day the excretion of saliva combined with dirt making mud would have been a highly unclean event. Mud was bad, and by association so was everything associated with any dirt and water combination.
But there is another way to use mud. And ironically the only way to describe all of the nay-sayers, doubters, and guffaw merchants questioning Jesus’ actions and the healing he had brought about uses another “mud” term. The Pharisees and doubters and attackers who berate the healed blind man can only be seen as “mud slingers.” They are individuals who cannot see the miraculous healing power of God, but can only see the basic elements of dirt and spit, the basic facts of a blind beggar and a Sabbath day afternoon.
In the “Harry Potter” genre of children’s books some of the “pureblood” wizard families proclaim their superiority over those who unexpectedly are born with wizarding gifts in non-magical families. Those pure blood wizards assert that those not from wizarding bloodlines are “mud bloods.” They are inferior. Dirty. Polluted. Impure. It is a children’s book lesson in the ridiculousness of racism.
The truth is that we are all “mud bloods” — we are all children born from the creativity of God upon the mud bank of the first squishy shore of creation. Mud is our common mantra. And mud is our makeover. Why do people use mud facials to remove impurities and toxins? Because of the cleansing, restoring, curative powers of mud. Even spit is a cleansing agent, as every antique restorer knows. There are enzymes in spit that remove grime without destroying what’s underneath. Salivas act upon lipids and proteins that dissolves dirt but doesn’t harm the paint. Spit is restoration. Godspit is divine restoration and purification.
The majesty of God revealed in this one man’s story is the restoration of the sight of all humanity through our willingness to come to the One whom God "sent" and to be washed, cleansed, and restored, and forgiven by the "Living Water." The anointing with clay and saliva is the finishing of God’s creation of us . . . making us again whole through the salve and salvation of Christ.
You know who totally gets this whole mud makeover/Godspit thing??
That's right, my buddy Bert. No dog does mud like him.