Saturday, January 18, 2014

Them with Eyes to See

I watched the NYT Op-Docs "Notes on Blindness" recently.  It’s a moving visualization to the words of John Hull’s audio diary on his own loss of sight.  His reflection on rain – its sounds creating a symphony of bounded space to navigate in a sightless world – is one of the more powerful images I’ll carry with me.

The most keenly felt, however, are the descriptions of loss – not only for John, but for his family as well – the loss of seeing and being seen in the exchange of eye contact between two people.

Not to see again is surely loss, but so is not to be seen.

How special, how precious, to be simply beheld . . . to be held in the gaze of another.

We punish each other sometimes with the temporary withdrawal of our gaze.  Without a word spoken, we speak volumes merely by refusing to look at the other.

Young men, particularly young men of color, avoid eyes as they walk the streets and one day it struck me that they were afraid of what they might see in my eyes.  That was the day I began saying hello in a friendly voice – just so young men I’ll never know would realize that they could look safely in my eyes and find no fear, no rejection, there.  It was the only gift I had.  And it’s not nothing.

For that was the day I realized that God has given me these eyes so that I might actually see.

Seeing is part of my job as a human being.

The birds are back in the forsythia.  I can hear them.  I wonder if I’ll see them?

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