By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
Like a curtain being drawn across a window, shutting out the sun’s glare and darkening an interior, so a shadow slowly crept across my vision and did not go away.
A visit to the family doctor was not an option, it was a necessity. After a thorough examination, a referral was made, bags were packed, a drive from Waterloo to a specialist in London, and the next morning I was having emergency eye surgery to repair a detached retina in my right eye.
I was informed that a not uncommon impact of the surgery that I had experienced was the development of a cataract. Surgery was needed to deal with that issue.
Once again, the all too familiar experience of a darkening curtain became a reality, this time in my left eye. Once again, an examination and a trip to London for surgery, this time, through a snow storm! Once again cataract surgery awaits. (This time, it will take place on the date when this article is due!)
A brief reflection, offered by the surgeon who will be operating on the cataract which has developed on my left eye, has caused me many moments of reflection. “Be grateful”, he said, as he prepared to leave the examination room, with his hand on the door handle. “Be grateful that you were born at a time when eye surgery has moved to a point where we are able to take care of you. Not too long ago, you would have been blind by now.”
Since hearing that statement, I have had moments when words of scripture have had an impact on me in new and different ways.
When I hear, “The light shines on in the dark…” (John 1:5), the word “dark” has a powerful reality as it leads me to a point when I am able to value and appreciate the true power of “light”. My world, my life, would be so different from what I am able to experience now, as I benefit from medical care, the practical support of family and friends, and from the prayers of those who support me on my journey to renew my vision.
Clarity of vision in our lives is not simply limited to our physical sight. The personal experience which I have shared with you, has its parallels in our spiritual pilgrimage through life.
When the disciples of John the Baptist approach Jesus and enquired if he was the one whose arrival had been heralded by John, or if they should continue looking with hope and expectation for the message of John to find its fulfillment in someone else, Jesus replies,” Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind recover their sight…” (Matthew 11:4)
Those words strike me anew as I share these thoughts with you, not only because they reference the incredible healing ministry of Jesus, but because they also point to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit alive in our lives today. Spiritual blindness is as much a reality for many individuals who do not have to grapple with the reality of physical blindness. Blindness which prevents an appreciation of another person, or another person’s point of view; blindness which prevents a sense of awareness of the depth and diversity of our own identity; blindness which stands as a barrier preventing the free flow of God’s love, mercy and grace to be experienced as a personal reality; these darkened areas of our lives are as much in need of healing as physical blindness.
There is, perhaps, the temptation to avoid dealing with our own blindness. No rush for emergency surgery is necessary, because we need others to see things our way. The problem, from our viewpoint is theirs, not ours. That may influence how we live our lives as individuals and also as members of a community, even a community of faith. If only, we think, our viewpoint carried the day, all would be well.
Yet that blindness stands in the way of the desire which all of us need to share. Putting our time, our efforts and our energy into discovering how we may make God’s will a reality in our own lives will lift the darkness from our lives and lead us to experience the brightness and beauty of God’s light shining in God’s world.
Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full time parish ministry, but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese of Huron.
(Featured photo: Amanda Dalbjorn/Unsplash)