Jesus the Other Sun
Guiding me along the lighted path…
Although October is nearly over, I recently learned that this is Blindness Awareness Month. When I mentioned this face to an acquaintance, she asked me how I cope with my own progressive vision loss. I had to think about it. This post grew as I thought about her question.
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MY JOURNEY WITH ONGOING VISION LOSS
As a child, I gravitated toward the exotic—a coloring book with costumed dolls from around the world, two foreign aunts, preparing salsa, tacos and sopapillas with honey for fun. I had a Native American pen pal, studied French in fifth grade and Spanish in high school and took a mission trip to Brazil. I believed I was destined to travel abroad. My ticket: teaching English as a foreign language.
I landed a teaching job in Colombia and after that, Costa Rica. Then, my luckiest offer yet—Indonesia! But first, I sprinted off to my eye doctor for stronger eyeglasses. He sent me for some tests. I sat in that sterile office with an eye chart mocking me and suddenly grappled with the words “Retinitis Pigmentosa,” the term itself like a foreign language. It translated to impending vision loss, whether immediate or gradual. Blind. I halted mid-step. At age twenty-eight, what could I do? Where could I go? How could I teach?
Then, God handed me a backpack “Open it,” He urged. Inside I found four provisions. “Go. Whatever else you take, remember these,” God said, and sent me on my way.
The first provision was faith. Like a lightweight shawl, I could wrap myself up and keep warm. God said even ifI had faith as small as a mustard seed, it would move mountains. Or move me over the mountains to Indonesia. I didn’t know when I would lose my sight, but I knew He could find me even there. His outstretched arms would always keep me close to Him.
I lifted out the second provision: family. I recalled the song lyrics “Bind us together, Lord, with cords that cannot be broken…” Like spools of thread, family members bound me—the stray button—to their love whether I traveled to Latin America, the Far East or the Middle East. Likewise, I couldn’t attempt this journey from sighted to blind without my family.
I giggled at the last provision: fun. It came in the shape of pointed eyeglass frames with tinted lenses. A strange thing happened whenever I slipped them on. They gave me the ability to laugh at myself. In my increasingly dark and blurry environment, I felt as if I’d stepped onto a stage with Lucille Ball. A good sense of humor was necessary throughout my travels.
These four provisions have served me well. I started with a lightweight shawl of faith and now I carry a heavy woolen blanket wide enough to keep several people warm. How my faith has grown!
I believe I was destined to travel abroad—to see life from His perspective even as I gradually lost my own sight. One amazing fact I came to understand about God, He gave me the desires of my heart.
Twenty-five years after being diagnosed, I still have some usable vision.
In His mercy, God is taking me along the scenic route.