Take joy in the seeing

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing chaplain
 In John Newton's well-known hymn "Amazing Grace" we read these words: "I once was blind but now I see." Newton referred, of course, to spiritual insight gained as a result of his conversion to the Christian faith. Sight, whether physical or spiritual, is vitally important to one's quality of life.

Recently I had the privilege of attending a presentation by a civilian colleague who, with her husband, continues the legacy begun by her son in the small mountain villages of Nepal. Each year they visit Katmandu and the school begun and supported by donations in the name of their son. In addition to the school, eye clinics are offered to those who suffer from cataracts, young and old. My friend Barbara showed us picture after picture of cataract patients before and after their surgeries. In some cases, elderly patients who had been suicidal due to their blindness were photographed in a spontaneous dance when they realized they could see. A 12-year-old girl, blind for six years, rarely smiled and had no contact with anyone outside her family until the cataract surgery restored her sight and her smile. The sheer joy on these people's faces was "worth a thousand words" and more. Their joy was multiplied by the fact they would no longer be a burden on their families and could work again, could walk unaided, and could once again contribute to the welfare of the village. Recovery of sight was certainly a significant emotional event.

We all have significant emotional events in life that help us SEE (the acronym for 'significant emotional event'). If there's one thing I've learned for certain about life it's this: it's always changing, never static, always dynamic. We see life differently as a result of the events in our lives. We may be reluctant or hesitant to see things differently, but events have a way of changing our perspective.

Some of our significant emotional events are joyous, others are less so, and even painful at times. But each experience helps us to see ourselves more clearly and thereby grow as human beings. Sight is truly a blessing, as those who see anew can attest. Insight is, however, even more difficult to attain. Saint Augustine challenges our thinking when he says, "People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." Life itself is a wonder, a significant emotional event for each of us. Wherever you look may there be joy in the seeing, and perhaps even dancing.