Today’s Gospel (Luke 18: 35-43) always reminds me how dependent I am on the sense of sight. I am a very visual person. When someone in the house has lost something, they’ll ask me; I mentally scan the rooms of the house and can usually tell them exactly where to find that missing thing. I’m a voracious reader. I’m a musician. And I’m an editor, so I’m looking at words (and punctuation) all day.
Loss of vision is something I secretly fear. My grandmother suffered for several years with macular degeneration. She loved to read. Every Sunday she spent hours working on the New York Times crossword puzzle while her Sunday-dinner chicken roasted. Each day she prayed her way through a thick packet of prayer cards as she sat at the kitchen table. When she lost her sight, she was no longer able to do any of those things. I spent hours typing the prayers from those cards on my computer, setting them in a large font and printing pages to insert in a binder. That helped for a little while, but eventually she was unable to read at all.
Soon after my grandmother died in 2002, one of the Secular Franciscans began to lose her sight to the same disease. I remember Jean attending each fraternity meeting, chiming in when it was time to state our prayer requests with the same words each time: “For good vision.”
Jean didn’t regain her ability to read the small print on prayer cards, but the wisdom she’d share at our meetings as we learned about living our Secular Franciscan vocation proved that she hadn’t lost all vision. Stripped of her ability to watch TV and read, Jean had keen insight about what really mattered.
Do I focus on what’s most important? Or do I let the things I see around me cloud my vision?