Sunday, 10 June 2007

... is believing

Such thoughts as these always highlight an experience that had a profound effect on me.

As the eldest of six children, but the last to need spectacles, I had thought such things were only for others, not for me; and because I reached my fifties before needing reading glasses I probably delayed my visit to the optician longer than I should have done through believing that I would always be able to see well without them.
I had always been blessed with good eyesight, and had appreciatively used its full range to seek and examine the wonders of distant views and wildlife sightings, and to study minutely the astonishing variety and beauty of insects and plants that filled my world. Perhaps, as with many of us, what brought about the change was the realization that my arms were no longer long enough to bring the printed page into focus by holding it further away.
Having acknowledged - as a result of finding I could read in a far more relaxed fashion - that perhaps I had needed glasses after all, I used them for reading but for nothing else; that is, until the first time my eyes strayed from the page and I saw the back of my own hand. The clarity of the detail astounded me: -the texture of the skin with its pores, its creases and hairs. That alone would have been enough to set my thoughts in motion, but what made the experience so unforgettable was what I saw next.

I had parked my car on a grass verge in a quiet country lane and there I sat reading and thinking.
Having seen my hand anew, I gazed out over the woods and fields through the open window, pondering the fact that I had thought I had been seeing these things without my new-found assistance, until I lowered my eyes and looked once more through the lenses. Right there beside me, just outside the window and level with my shoulder, were – in that moment – the most beautiful creations I had ever seen. Stinging nettles!
Backlit by the sun, the hairs on the leaves and stems shone with a splendour that seemed to shout a silent, ‘I am beauty. I am beyond understanding. I am in all things.’
I was at once both spellbound and on the verge of tears; held spellbound by the delicacy and the intricacy of reality: by the other-worldly glow and pulse within even the (apparently) most ordinary of natural things; on the verge of breaking, through the fullness of feeling that accompanied my realization of just how long it had been since I last really saw what had been an everyday sight for me – the hairs on stinging nettles.

That realization brought a form of nostalgia as my mind wandered through the corridors of my past, lined with images of the most miraculous of details, the most wondrous of creations I had seen during those years. I had known such things so well that, as my eyesight deteriorated, I had substituted my memory of detail where I could no longer see the actual sight, the reality, the truth.
Until that moment I had been completely unaware of this.
To learn of it in that glorious sight brought, at first, an immense sense of loss, but then a renewed sense of wonder in the complex fragility and the fragile complexity of creation, and also a reawakened awe in relation to one specific part of that creation which had played a major part in my own life as a sighted person.
Since birth I have been able to see; so simple; so obvious. But being able to see does not bring with it an automatic ability to see: the one is the provision, the other is the utilization of what has been provided.

If I had never used the ability to see the world around me while my sight was as good as I had thought it still was, I would never have seen things that were there for all to see, and would never have missed them when they were gone. I would also never have come to see them again when difficulties with reading brought me to the optician for my first corrective lenses.

And there is another wonder we take for granted: optical lenses. We can so easily be enabled to see clearly that which is vague and blurred and virtually invisible to us; we can see the truth of what we thought to be impossible by the simplest of faiths: the placing before our eyes of those transparent but re-focussing pieces of glass.
So simple, so effective, so empowering; such an achievement for man-and-woman-kind.

So simple, so easy, so available, such a simple gift to us from the Creator of every awesome detail.
And such is all creation if we can but open our eyes and ears, our minds and our hearts.
All things are freely given to those who would receive.
And such is faith.

In that moment, God had placed me suddenly right at the very edge.
He held me there, in a place of indescribable beauty that enveloped and far exceeded all the heart-filling wonders and longed for places whose images were held locked within me.
It was one of the moments that deepened my desire to return to the edge as often as possible, and to remain there for as long as the world would allow.
In His touch upon those nettles He opened my eyes further than ever before.
Even this fully sighted person now has his own experience of Jesus giving sight to the blind.

It was as though God spoke to me as He had to Ezekiel: -
‘… you are living among a tribe of rebels who have eyes and never see, they have ears and never hear, ….’ (Ezekiel 12:2)

Or in the way He told Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites: -
‘Now listen to this, stupid, brainless people who have eyes and do not see, who have ears and do not hear !’ (Jeremiah 5:21)

Or as Moses spoke to them after leading them for forty years in the desert: -
’…until today God has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.’ (Deuteronomy 29:3)

Lord, we confess our failure to realize the gifts you have embedded in us since birth,
And our suppressed ability to receive those you offer us each day.
Awaken to fullness all senses that bring us closer to Your will,
and to ever brightening visions of your creation.

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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