The joys and horrors of sight

I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day.

I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff (popularized by Johnny Nash in 1972)

Today I paid a visit to my retina doctor and now I’m squinting. It’s a bright, bright, sunshiny day and my dilated pupils can’t handle the intensity. From past experience, I know this will wear off in a few hours.

sunrise above the clouds

They dilated my pupils to be able to get a better look at my lovely eyeballs. A young technician had me sit in front of a variety of machines that snapped photos of the interior of my eyes. Later, the doctor had a look with a bright light and a fancy magnifying glass.

This week it’ll be 14 years since I experienced a partially detached retina in my right eye. (I wrote about the experience here, if you’re interested: )

My retinal tear definitely worsened my eyesight, but the expert and timely work of the doctor who treated me in Mexico kept me from losing the sight in my right eye, so I’m very grateful. And, although there have been some follow-up procedures since then, my doctor today said I’m doing fine and shouldn’t experience any further problems as I age. At least not eyesight problems. Good to know.

What a blessing eyesight is, and how difficult it is for blind persons or people with severely degraded vision to make their way in the world. Not just that, but think of all that they miss out on. What would it be like to not see the sun shining, or the dramatic revelation of blue skies after days of cloud and rain. What would it be like to miss out on smiles, on way a friend’s face lights up when they see you from across a room?

I realize there is much we who are sighted wish we could not see. We are sickened by violence and murder and acts of cruelty. We are dumbfounded by the inhumanity of war. We see tears. We see anger. Even worse, we see apathy. What we see is sometimes painful to watch. A loving God hopes that the experience of seeing evil will prompt us, his earthly representatives, to respond with goodness, with justice, with kindness, with compassion.

I see a beautiful red cardinal sitting in the sunlight on a fencepost. He is a mere particle of the totality of joy our God has packed into our world, our lives. But at this very moment, there are men and women locked away where there are no cardinals, there are places too dangerous for children to go searching for beautiful birds, there are homes where ugliness and despair have sucked all of the joy out of cramped and cold rooms.

What am I supposed to be doing to help those people experience joy, too?

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