When Our Sight Changes
The day that I turned 40 I had 20/15 vision in both eyes. Three days later, I needed progressive lens in my first pair of glasses. Needless to say, it was very upsetting. Perhaps eyesight is a silly thing to take pride in; but I did. When I went to visit my doctor to get it all checked out, I learned that it was actually a pretty common thing. Something changes in the muscles in our eyes when we turn 40 that can have such a dramatic effect. Learning that it was normal was actually of very little consolation. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that we can also experience a loss of sight emotionally and spiritually. When we experience things that can deeply affect our emotional and spiritual well-being it can very easily impact the ways that we see the world, our self, one another and God. Grief, pain, loss and separation do change the way we perceive the world around us.
The Crucible of Change
Space doesn’t allow for a thorough consideration of all the perceptions that have been challenged and are changing in the last six weeks. I think that few of us could have comprehended the sorts of changes in our life that we are enduring today. While some of us, who have deep struggles with change, had become pretty skilled at avoiding change (sort of), there is no escaping it today. There is no place in our life that will be immune. The new skill that we will be learning in this time is how to move through the feelings that could easily diminish us so that we can more clearly see how God is present today. There are two essential steps on that path. First, is to realize just how much we are being affected. Second, is to extend our self in the service of love and ministry rather than giving in to the instinct of shrinking from the opportunities that are all around us.
New Sight, New Understanding
One of the most iconic Scripture passages to illuminate this time is this week’s text from Luke’s Gospel, the Emmaus Road story. Cleopas and his unnamed friend are leaving Jerusalem on Easter Sunday. They are dejected, defeated and returning home. They are deeply grieved. Into that moment, the risen Christ comes but is unrecognized by them. How could that be possible? This was the Jesus they knew, had followed and changed their lives. How could they not recognize him? While we don’t know for certain, it isn’t a stretch to see how their own grief and loss could so affect their sight. There are many among us today who are experiencing something similar. There were two important elements to their eyes being opened. First, they extended themselves to offer hospitality to a stranger (even though I can imagine that they would have rather not). When they did the right thing, they found themselves in a place of grace as Jesus offered a meal that mirrored the Last Supper. This same Eucharistic moment is open to us today. It is a gift that can still open our eyes to the ways that God is present in our life.