Orbs and Evangelists
Yesterday myself and two other folks visited a few conference centers to find out which one would be best for an upcoming event. I had visited the first location four years ago while I was working Verona, my first guide dog. Back then, I thought it was a little challenging but not overly so. This time, though, I had a much harder time navigating the indoor and outdoor areas. At the time, I didn’t understand why, just that I felt as if I’d never been there before; nothing had changed except for the time of year, so I was indeed perplexed about my reaction.
Then, last night, I thought back on the possibilities and one thing kept coming up in my mind: my vision loss and how much it has declined.
Five years ago, my vision was better. Now, after a comparison like once again visiting the conference center, I got a reality check. Big time.
RP is a progressive retinal eye disease that has no cure and steals vision over time. Over the last 30 years I’ve gone from using glasses and seeing color and large print to becoming night blind, losing central vision and going color blind. Three years ago I packed up the CCTV, too, unable to read even the capital E on the screen an inch from my nose. I am also working my second guide dog, having obtained the first one in 2009.
Now, my light perception is limited and often I prefer to keep my eyes closed, relying more and more upon my other senses.
I understand why I felt so awkward; I was trying to recall things and details about the venue that are gone due to the additional decompensation of these broken orbs. I am accepting of it, after all, I can’t change what’s happening nor can I control it, even with treatment. I’ve been fortunate to have lived half of my life with sight, now I am living it without the benefit of it and it’s made me a better person.
- * *
- Now, in a most complimentary fashion, I give you a slice of life on the short bus:
Okay, I am on the para transit bus, the driver and I are talking. He starts driving. Then he asks,
“Do you mind if I ask you something?”
I smile to myself, knowing if I bet myself a dollar he’s going to ask me something about being blind, that I’d surely win two dollars and buy a coffee.
I say yes, what is the question.
“Were you born blind?”
I say no, I always had poor vision but I didn’t lose a large portion of it until age 28.
He goes on to ask me if I miss not seeing. I say sometimes I do but mostly, I am happy and do fine without it. At this point I’m not quite sure what he’s building up to – maybe to ask about a friend or some other well-meaning but ignorant statement. I’ve heard them all and after many years, it doesn’t really bother me much anymore.
To my surprise, he says,
“You know, my wife and me, we are Christians, and on weekends we find people and pray with them, you know, on the street,”
I nod and think, Oh boy, he is a charismatic Christian like the guy who walked beside me on the street last year and wanted to heal my eyes.
Anyway, he asks my permission to pray to heal my eyes and I say okay, he can do it.
He starts speaking, then ends with a sincere and confident intonation, asking,
“Can you see yet?”
I want to laugh, tell him, Mister, last year, your colleague has done this before and it didn’t work then. Hey, I love Jesus, believe he died for our sins, but even He can’t heal DNA.
But all I say is,
He asks if he can do it again, and suddenly I find myself trying not to laugh, thinking why would it work the second time? Last year, his colleague got to pray for me for an entire city block and I am still blind.
He wraps up the prayer with another strident request and asks,
“Can you see?”
Now, I am going to admit, I was going to go all Sarah and Her Vassals evangelical on him, roll my eyes, pretend to spasm and speak in tongues, but all I actually said was,
The bloated silence in the bus was kind of sad, and could probably be adapted for a SNL skit. It was also annoying but not enough to ruin my day or the potential for an ironically humorous moment. I let the silence hang for an instant longer before I remembered the grace is part of acceptance and let the guy off the hook. I say,
“You know, I believe God only gives you what you can handle, and since He thinks I can handle being blind, I choose to accept that and be happy. I’d rather that you pray for my health and happiness, not to see again,”
And that, my constant readers, was the end of that conversation. Blessed Be.