Saturday, October 15, 2011

The blessings of eyesight and a content spirit

In my last post, I mentioned the scene by a winding river on a cloudy day. Today I witnessed the same scene in mid-afternoon fully sun-lit splendor. The same, yet different. There is something about nature that is an automatic spirit booster! The perfect reminder of an intimate, inseparable link to our Creator. Besides the view, vitamin D from sunshine and exercise-induced endorphin release are additional blessings to me as I walk in the country. I think about the things I enjoy looking at such as…
  • scenery and details in nature
  • cityscapes and architectural design
  • faces—eyes, smiles
  • unique lighting
  • interesting shadows
  • visual and performance art
  • words in literature
  • shapes of fonts
  • color
…I realize that I am truly blessed with eyesight.

The topic of eyesight has an interesting connection to my family history. My grandmother gradually became blind due to a type of macular degeneration in her eyes. I have a baby portrait of her and also one taken at the time of her confirmation, probably when she was in junior high school. She wasn’t wearing glasses and probably could see perfectly. Eyes change though. Photos of her indicate that when I was born she could see perfectly with the help of regular corrective lenses just as approximately 75% of the adult USA population does. Grandma enjoyed life through her hobby of photography. I remember she used to pose my siblings and me when she’d come to visit and snap away those awesome black and white Polaroid cameras she’d bring along. What excitement to witness and take in the scent of the instant processing of images she shot. She had an artistic eye when it came to many things, especially photography. As a farmer’s daughter, I have another special memory connected to Grandma. Every year before school started, our family planned a vacation to go stay with Grandma who lived in “The Cities”. Grandma would drive us in her beige colored Dodge which had very distinct sounding blinkers. She’d bring us to places like Kentucky Fried Chicken and a park to watch squirrels and have a picnic with watermelon or fresh, juicy plums. But the highlight of the vacation was to go shopping at Southdale, which I considered to be the greatest shopping center ever! I think I was about in junior high when I learned that her sight was slipping. It wasn’t long after that when I found out she wouldn’t be able to drive anymore. As a child who probably hadn’t experienced that privilege yet, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. Now that I think about it, it must have felt like a big deal to her. I imagine now that she felt a great loss about the ability to enjoy looking at things and faces. It must have been really sad when she realized there would be no more creating images with her camera. These thoughts bring up another blessing. The blessing of being raised, nurtured and surrounded by people who don’t complain. Even though Grandma eventually could only read with the help of a super-powerful magnifying glass lens and then not at all—only blurry shapes of lightness and darkness—she didn’t complain. It came to the point that if she didn’t recognize a voice, she would ask who was speaking. She was legally blind and used a white cane. But does something like this shut down my Grandma? NO! It came about gradually and God gave her grace in learning ways to adapt and make the best of her situation. She learned to ask for help if she needed it, but if she could do something by herself, she would definitely do so. She’d loved to read when she could see, so she now borrowed books on record albums designed for blind people. She’d learned to crochet when she could see and now she was able to continue with this craft by feeling the needle and thread and counting the stitches. This qualifies her as a multi-tasker, to read and crochet at the same time! She still gave the very best Grandma hugs anyone could ever imagine. She still had wonderful stories to tell with her voice. Even though Grandma seemed so perfect to me, she understood that she was a sinner and we all are. She had a strong desire that everyone would have a personal relationship with Jesus and learn of His saving grace. We had a big party at her church when she turned 80. She stood up to thank everyone for coming and witnessed to others of her faith in our loving Triune God and encouraged us to do the same. I always will remember her with a smile on her face and her content and thankful spirit. In her remembrance I want to share this: if you’ve never set foot in a sanctuary, or if it’s been a while since you have, I encourage you to go to church where you will praise and thank God, be inspired by the Spirit, hear the Word and discover the same love and contentment my Grandmother had.

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