Seeing the Light

WEEKLY REFLECTION | October 21, 2023 – Proper 24A

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My freshman year in college, I met a woman who was blind. Being language people, we were in many classes together. We shared space with a big old fat golden lab who was a seeing eye dog, and outrageously spoiled. And almost failed Advanced French, because we kept cutting the mid-afternoon class to run home and watch Dark Shadows (remember that old TV show?).

I didn’t know any blind folks at the time, so I was really interested to find out what it was like for her. She blindfolded me and showed me how to navigate with cane and dog. It was a TERRIFYING experience! I learned to read and write braille—a skill long forgotten. And actually traveled with her to New York City where she guided me through the NY subway system as we went to stay at her family home.

After coming from a rural farm community, you can imagine that I thought any minute I was going to get lost in the vast underground maze, or run over by a train, or jumped on by a bandit. She was so incredibly smart and absolutely fearless. That was the year I truly learned to value light.

Although I had been extremely nearsighted from kindergarten on, I just took it for the way life was and didn’t give much thought to it. Until I began to discover how important the light was to me and how much I depended on it for just about everything. Make dinner in the absolute darkness? Nope. Not going to be able to keep from cutting myself. Sit in the dark and listen to a textbook being read? Nope. Not going to be able to remember it all. Walk out my door, down the drive, up the stairs to the sidewalk with my eyes firmly closed? Nope. Couldn’t even find the stairs.

As you know, last week I had the first of two cataract surgeries and have been dealing with the fact that it is really hard to read a book or computer screen. Riding in the car makes me dizzy because my eyes don’t focus properly. Every few minutes I have to close my eyes to let them rest after putting hydrating drops in. I have been remembering everything I learned from my blind friend so many years ago.

With those memories has come increasing awareness of the preciousness of all kinds of light that surrounds us. The glorious sunshine, of course. The gentle silver-blue of moonlight. The glitter of starlight. Big, braying street lights that glare through the night. Traffic lights that keep us safe as we travel. The delicate light of a single candle, flickering off the golden halo of an icon.

Because I am who I am, light-filled music has been coming to mind. All week long hymns have been floating in and out of my mind. Be thou my vision. Christ is the world’s true light. I want to walk as a child of the light. This little light of mine. O gracious light. Bright shines the morning star. What can you add to my list?

Above all, I am aware as I sit in the dark with my eyes closed, of the inner light that shines without faltering at the center of all our beings–the Light of Christ. The Light that shines in the darkness and that darkness can never overwhelm.

In ten more days or so, both my eyes will see well, God willing. And I’ll see more than I have since I was a toddler. I hope I never again take for granted the light that I see and, even more, the Light of Christ.

Mo. Laura+