"When the man saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, 'Look at us.' And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, 'I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.'"- Acts 3:3-6
Peter and John break the cardinal rule for dealing with people on the street: don't make eye contact. Living in New York and Chicago, I learned this lesson well. If you want to get anywhere in the city (or in life, for that matter) it doesn't pay to look around.
But Peter and John don't seem interested in getting anywhere. Not only do they look at the man asking for alms, they insist he look at them. And in that moment we discover a new rule: healing begins with looking.
Whether the illness is physical, spiritual, or societal, the remedy always starts with a willingness to look; to observe and examine our wounds, our privilege, our apathy. It is easy to make rules that keep my eyes trained on my own feet, but if I dare to look up, I may be invited onto a new path. Looking into the eyes of another, I may be sent on a journey that will not end until we are both healed. If it costs me all my silver and gold, will I look?
God of healing and wholeness, raise my eyes above the level of selfish concern. Give me courage to look at difficult truths and to follow the path they outline toward transformation.
Vince Amlin is Associate Minister at the United Church of Gainesville, Gainesville, Florida.