A few months ago I had cataract surgery. I had my left eye done right before covid-19 put a temporary stop to such surgeries. For seven weeks, there I was: left eye, no cataract. Right eye, cataract. It was a unique situation to be in.
When I closed my left eye, I saw the world as I was used to seeing it—as if looking through a grayish, brownish film. But when I closed my right eye and looked through my left, I saw a brand new world of amazing brightness. Colors were more vivid, my Kindle screen was brighter, and I could now see in the distance clearly. What was even more amazing, when looking through my left eye, some things had actually changed colors. My dull purple top was now bright purple. My blue plaid shirt was now a vivid turquoise plaid shirt. My blah gray gloves were now rich avocado green gloves!
And for years, I thought what I was seeing was reality. If someone would have said, “I like your green gloves, Melannie,” I would have corrected them. “They’re gray, not green.” I might have even added, “You’d better get your eyes checked.”
The lesson I learned from this experience was clear: We must not be quick to equate the way we see something—a person, a situation, a concept, an experience—as the real way, the right way, the only way. Sometimes we may need a new lens to see things more clearly. We might need eye surgery—or “I surgery.”
Ordinarily cataracts develop slowly. Mine took years to form before my doctor deemed them “ripe” enough for surgery. Our spiritual vision can become clouded over time too—imperceptibly. What factors impede clarity of vision? Familiarity can impede our vision. If we see something again and again we risk not seeing it at all. That’s why it’s good to have friends who help us to see familiar things in new ways.
Prejudice can also hinder our perception. If we have preconceived ideas against a certain group of individuals (of a specific race, gender, age bracket, occupation, political leaning, religious affiliation, etc.) we risk not seeing them for who they really are. And sometimes the very aging process can make us get set in our ways and not open to new insights, new ideas, new ways of seeing. If you ever catch yourself saying, “But I always thought…” That’s a good sign. Chances are it means you are on the verge of modifying something you always thought!
Let us pray: God of Perfect Sight, give me a share of your vision. Help me to become aware of the ways my perception is clouded. Give me the grace to appreciate the familiar—especially people in my life. Help me to lessen the prejudices I have against individuals, ideas, movements, and ways of being and doing. Do not let the natural aging process make me get set in my ways. Rather, help me to be open to new insights, new ideas, new ways of seeing, and new ways of doing things. I ask for these graces through Jesus who went about healing people both of their physical blindness as well as their spiritual blindness. Amen.
Did any words, phrases, or ideas in this reflection resonate with your own experience? If so, which? and why?
What are some of the ways you try to keep your vision alive and healthy?
Have you ever had the experience of seeing something in a brand new way? What factors led to this “re-visioning”?
PS: I want to thank all the people who made our retreat at King’s House Retreat Center in Belleville, IL last week. We had 72 participants–about 25 at the retreat center itself and the rest on Zoom. I really enjoyed “meeting” so many faith-filled individuals from all over the U.S. plus Canada and India! And I thank my “Sunflower Seeds” readers for the support of your prayers. And a special, special thank you to the retreat center director, Fr. Sal Gonzalez, OMI, who patiently taught me how to give a Zoom webinar retreat! I’m most grateful!
Today’s song is the 8th Century Irish hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” This version is sung by Audrey Assad. By today’s standards, the song uses exclusive language. But hopefully we can see beyond that to the simple beauty of this ancient hymn.
Please feel free to respond below to anything in today’s blog! We love hearing from our readers.