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Seeing Dimly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about vision.

I am the kid who got my first pair of glasses and then spent hours staring out the window amazed that I could see individual leaves on the trees.

I hated having to get new frames because I couldn’t see myself in the mirror to know how I would look.

I gave up swimming with my friends because the favorite game was Treasure Hunt, finding the locker key that someone placed on the bottom of the pool. There was just no way I could play.

I was VERY near-sighted.

Getting contact lenses in 8th grade was one of the best things that happened. I had peripheral vision for the first time in years. I could see better. I didn’t have glasses constantly sliding down my nose.

So for around 50 years, it has been my routine to get up in the morning, put my contact lenses in, and get on with the business of the day.

This year my vision got a little fuzzier than usual. Driving at night was becoming a bit of a challenge. The diagnosis was that my cataracts had finally gotten bad enough to have them removed.

I’ve heard people say that the results of cataract surgery are awesome. My overall vision didn’t change significantly, so awesome is not the word that I would use.

I can only say that the results have been profoundly weird.

What did change were my experiences at the beginning and end of the day, the times when I typically didn’t use my contacts or my glasses.

My electronics and I developed a special relationship over the last few years. By placing my right hand on my forehead, I could read the morning news on my iPhone before getting up. By setting my Kindle to the largest type size, I could read in bed without my glasses.

In the morning, I would sometimes just lie there with my eyes open, staring into a blurry void.

I’ve lost that. I’ve lost that foggy world that belonged just to me, that I could use to ease myself into and out of the day. Now, through the (God-given) skills of doctors and surgery, I see the world fully in focus, from waking to sleeping.

It’s profoundly weird.

Jason’s blog a few weeks ago asked about our favorite Bible verse. I have too many to pick just one, but for today it’s 1 Corinthians 13:12

The familiar version is:

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (NRSV translation)

Even as a kid, I understood seeing in a mirror, dimly. That was my life without glasses. When I was young, seeing face to face meant being six inches away from someone. What better way to be close!

I also like The Message translation version:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (The Message translation)

My life without glasses or contacts was squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. It’s not unpleasant; it’s just different. It was a world that belonged just to me.

Now I only see clearly.

I am grateful for the (God-given) science that allows for vision correction. I’m thankful for doctors who have the skills to provide vision-correcting glasses, and who remove cataracts. I’m grateful for doctors who can treat a myriad of other vision issues, especially for children who are just beginning to experience the world.

Blessings to those who experience cataract surgery results as being awesome.

As for me, I feel like a part of me has been lost, the ability to hide in the fog, the chance to retreat to my misty world.

I’m seeing clearly, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it or what it means in God’s world.

- Ann Iona Warner

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