In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eyes to See

No one warned me that when the patch was taken off on the morning after cataract surgery on my right (close vision) eye, I might have foggy sight. Only after the procedure two weeks later, designed to give me sharper vision in my left eye by eliminating scar tissue around my 15-year-old lense implant, did I learn that the lense would be "floating" in its sac for up to a week or ten days before settling down in a new "nest". So as the right eye was clearing, the left was distorted, and without a distance contact lense for the right near-vision eye, I was a more handicapped night driver than before any of the surgeries.

Seeing has been important to the point of an obsession with me. The handsome young anesthesiologist who had done his internship and residency at Vanderbilt had barely stopped shaking my hand when I said I didn't want him to administer propofol (a very popular short-term anesthetic these days). I wanted to be awake and know what was happening, even if I couldn't actually see the surgery. He complied and provided something to take the pain edge away but that left me awake. (What I heard were complaints about dealing with an eye that had had RK cuts in it to improve sight prior to the advent of Lasex, which the surgeon had known prior to the operation.)

When I got glasses for my nearsightedness as a nine-year-old, I was amazed that I could see individual leaves on the trees while standing underneath them. When I got contact lenses for graduation as a teenager, I stood at the front of a local drug store, amazed that I could read signs near the back of the store. When I tried out a new distance contact over my now great near-vision eye and read most of the 20-20 line on the doctor's chart, I was amazed and gratified. I could not remember when I had been able to see so well!

But what about that inner-seeing? What about the journey to know ourselves? How many times do our lenses get clouded? NY Times op ed writer, David Brooks, recently wrote about seeing only what we wish to see, whether that meant ignoring what we saw (as in the Penn State scandal), or making what we see into what we wish was there. This is so easily true when we look at ourselves. Who wants to see the mote in one's own eye? Isn't it easier to see the one in the other person's?

In my spiritual journey, I often asked, "God, did I really need to see that today?" when shown some gnarly part of my personality. At this time during Advent, I'm reminded that I find it easier to see the needs of others, rather than to see and tend to my own. Yesterday I was reminded that my little job helping my daughter consists of what she sees is best for her at the time, correctly of course. I got to see that mote in my eye, the one that says "but I go out of my way to help her...." "That's what Mothers do," I'm likely to say if someone else points this out. But how far should I carry it?????

I don't need to feel as if I'm living her life--or to be disappointed when an opportunity to help with something that's fun for me (this time--shopping for accessories) suddenly disappears. Really-----shopping for things, pretty, but useless things to go into a 6-bedroom house occupied by one person--is that what should be occupying my time?

And what about that centering prayer work--the group with too many newcomers, the introduction dropped in my lap with no support from those whose schedule dictated the time the introduction would be held, the facilitators workshop held on a snowy day so it needs to be repeated at another time. Those in the group like it, the introduction went well, and the two who joined me Saturday morning enjoyed our time together. But where was I in this work--exhausted most of the time--and feeling unsupported. There's something wrong with this picture, and the blur isn't clearing on this cold snowy day.

What is my journey now? I seem to have that foggy sight in another way. It's been easier to be busy than to quietly wait for the Holy Spirit to point the direction.