Unwashed

Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  – Eph 5:8-9

Driving slow in the fast lane, noisy chewing, nails on a chalkboard,  blocking the grocery store aisle while talking, incorrect mask usage. We all have things that irritate us and trigger reactions that are over the top. We swear at the offending driver, we post memes online about these irritating people, we complain on a text chain with our friends and family. Our response is a bit overblown to these quirks that irk. Some of us also have things that trigger an above normal level of anxiety. For me it’s small spaces, heights, and my kids getting sick. 

When faced with the pressure to make decisions in these settings, I am paralyzed by fear and over-thinking. I lose confidence in my own instincts.  I do not trust myself to gage whether I am overreacting.  Even before COVID, I had visions of illness sweeping through our family and throwing off all our plans.  I have not embraced the section from St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation: 


“We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.” 

I am not indifferent to my family’s health nor am I indifferent to my own anxieties. I do not want any of us to be physically or mentally unwell.  I DO desire a stable, balanced reaction to stressors. St. Ignatius and today’s Gospel both remind us that God meets us precisely in these places where we feel lacking. In the Gospel, Jesus heals a man born blind by mixing saliva with dirt to form a clay. He then “smeared the clay on his eyes.” As Jesus, does this the man’s physical impairment is healed and his faith in God is affirmed. 

When I imagine myself in the Gospel scene, I feel like the clay is caked to my eyes and I keep trying to see through it. I sense God’s presence, feel His healing touch, and yet I don’t fully believe in its power. I am still trying to interpret reality and make decisions through a lens that is obscured. I convince myself that if only I can “get over” these insecurities, I will be able to respond better in faith. Once I am “cured” then I can trust more in God’s plan for my life and my family. Yet, Jesus does not wait for me to “be better” or “do better” in order to act. God continues to meet me in these painful places and transforms them.  

What happens if I take a step towards the pool of healing and wash the clay from my eyes? Am I ready for what I might see? 

Published by jencoito

Jen Coito is a California native with diverse experience in parish, academic, and national ministry settings. She has a Masters in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University. She worked for the California Province of Jesuits for seven years promoting Christian Life Community on university campuses and other diverse ethnic settings. Jen has collaborated on the creation of formation materials, discernment tools, and small group processes that are being used around the country in Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and English. In 2013, Jen and Jesuit priest Fr. Tri Dinh co-founded Christus Ministries out of a desire to engage local young adults and form young-adult friendly parishes. Jen works for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California as the Associate Director of Mission Advancement. Jen, Jason, and their three children live in Southern California. You can read more of Jen's writings at www.jencoito.com.

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