I came across this quote today and it made me stop and think:
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. – Albert Einstein
I think something about this gets at the root of why my vision loss has been so transformative for me, why it has been such a blessing. Through my journey into low vision, I have learned to “pause in wonder.” Seeing the world through new, less perfect, eyes has allowed (forced) me to slow down and take the time to “stand rapt in awe.”
Before my vision began to deteriorate, I wasn’t exactly “as good as dead.” Still, I must admit that I was not a very joy-filled person. I was not optimistic. I did not take time to look for grace or beauty in the world, and so I did not often see it or acknowledge it. I focused on the negative most of the time. I felt worn down by the misery in the world and the sadness of my own perspective. Many, many people advised me to count my blessings, to be thankful for the wonderful life I had been given. A lot of times, I just couldn’t do it.
Somehow, as my vision deteriorated, my spiritual eyes began to open. Instead of being attuned to the sadness in the world, I started to be aware of the joy. Instead of seeing darkness and ugliness, I began to see beauty and light. I gradually became aware that grace is everywhere – the world is full to overflowing with the bounty of grace and my own life is no exception. Goodness and peace and happiness began to fill me until I was overflowing with the wonder of it. The words of the song “Amazing Grace” took on concrete meaning for me as I understood that I “was blind, but now I see.”
I have been thinking about what changed my perspective, what caused this huge transformation. It doesn’t seem like it could have been just because of the vision loss. I have faced other difficulties in my life and they did not bring me to this place. Something was different in this case, something unusual happened to cause me to accept the grace that God has been trying to bless me with all along.
Suddenly, I remembered something. When I was first diagnosed with Myopic Macular Degeneration, when I was first scared and sad and worried, my friend and former supervisor, Gaynelle, advised me to ask St. Lucy to intercede for me. She gave me an entire booklet of prayers of St. Lucy and I chose my favorite. I prayed it all the time. I put it on my computer desktop. I made little cards. I sent it to my friends and asked them to pray it on my behalf. At one point, I had it memorized. Time passed and I stopped praying this particular prayer. I had forgotten about it until I was grappling with this question today, the question of why the transformation came about.
Look at the words that I was praying, over and over, many times each day:
whose beautiful name signifies light,
by the light of Faith which God bestowed upon you,
increase and preserve His light in my soul,
so that I may avoid evil,
be zealous in the performance of good works,
and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and sin.
Obtain for me, by your intercession with God,
perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them
for God’s greater honor and glory.
I am amazed at how this prayer has worked in my life. I asked that light be increased in my soul. I prayed that I would hate the darkness – not the physical darkness of blindness, but the darkness of evil and sin. I prayed for the grace that my eyes would be used for God’s honor and glory. I remember telling John one day that I believed that this prayer was helping me to see that spiritual darkness was far worse than physical darkness. Looking at this prayer today, I believe that it opened me up to transformation. It allowed me to become aware of the light and beauty in the world. It helped me to turn from the darkness of despair about my situation and begin to turn toward the light of grace. This turning is what made all the difference. This change in perspective enabled the transformation that has changed me from a pessimist to an optimist, from a realist to a dreamer of possibilities. It gave me the ability to “pause in wonder and stand rapt in awe.” It opened my eyes and saved me from being as good as dead.