When The Eyes Aren’t Enough

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There’s a reason why there are five senses: Sight. Hearing. Taste. Smell. Touch.

They help us to experience life in the every day.

When I lost my left eye in an accident as a child I was never told there was anything I wouldn’t be able to do. I didn’t grow up thinking I was any worse off for the loss. I adapted. I didn’t just cope, I carried on.

Truthfully…I had a wonderful childhood. Thanks to parents who didn’t fuss over me. They wanted me to have pleasant life experiences.

No one told me early in life that my depth perception would change. I didn’t even know what depth perception was. I grew up learning to sew in a 4-H class one summer and didn’t seem to fret over threading needles. And I played sports in high school. I ran track, played field hockey and wore a cute little cheerleader’s uniform. I did get hit right smack in the eye socket one time by a fly softball playing on the church lawn. That was pretty painful, but without the peripheral vision it was an accident waiting to happen. But, you know? Even people with two good eyes have shared the same pain.

Probably more problematic for me than the loss of depth perception is the loss of peripheral vision. Because I also have hereditary, degenerative hearing loss I am now severely hearing impaired. Which means…if someone comes up beside me on my left side I don’t see them, neither do I hear them. Scary, huh?

My boss at the small town cafe where I worked for three years got a BIG kick out of coming up on my left side and giving me a tickle at the waist. No lie…I jumped every single time. I even let out a squeal. One time he surprised me when the floor was packed with customers having a pleasant dining experience. Let’s just say, after that, he usually waited until there were fewer patrons for fear of starting a stampede. Seriously, if you ever want to run people off just give me a call. You give me a scare and I’ll scream for you.

I guess working at a restaurant wasn’t the most suitable place for a visually and hearing impaired person, but the funny thing is…no one thought of me as ‘disabled.’ Part of the beauty of being able to experience life is not to focus on what I don’t have. I focus on what I do. I still have some of my sight. I still have some of my hearing. I can still taste. I can still smell. I can still touch. Working around all that food at the town cafe certainly brought out the best in my remaining senses.

Did you know there are five basic tastes? Sweet. Bitter. Sour. Salty. Umami. Umami? That’s a new one for me. Had to look it up…it’s a savory taste. Had to look that up, too…it’s an aromatic plant of the mint family, used as a culinary herb, but technically it means it’s full of flavor, delicious.

Whew. You didn’t know this was going to be a culinary lesson, did you? Actually, I have a point. I promise.

Every day life shouldn’t be something we just do. It’s something we should experience. Half the time we don’t even realize how our senses work overtime in helping us get the most out of life. Not just to live like a mindless drone, but live it wonderfully and well. Even when life is hard to understand it’s possible to get clarity and perception when we keep our eyes on the goodness of God.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good, how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

I like it in the New Century Version, too: “Examine and see how good the Lord is. Happy is the person who trusts Him.”

Is it possible to taste God’s goodness? I believe it is.

But… here’s the million dollar question…how will I know what something tastes like if I don’t put it in my mouth and see for myself?

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

I can see something with my eyes. I can suppose what it might taste like. I can imagine what it might taste like. But, until I taste it, I won’t know for sure.

And that’s a very powerful thought. I want to experience the presence of God. I want to practice the presence of God. I don’t want to hear about Him from someone else. I want to see Him for myself.

I was sitting at a large family-style dinner table in a large dining hall many years ago with eleven other people. In the center of the table was a little bowl with some creamy-looking white sauce. No one seemed to know what it was. So me, being the most curious and quite possibly the bravest, decided to taste it. I didn’t just put a little on the tip of my finger. Oh, no. I took a spoonful. Horseradish. For real. I nearly died of asphyxiation.

Just because something looks good and is pleasing to the eye doesn’t mean that it is.

I can’t just sit back and wait for God’s goodness to reveal itself. Oh, I know it will. I don’t have to do anything to be a recipient, but I do have to choose to see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, even touch it. God’s goodness is part of His character and it can’t be taken out of Him. His good gifts are always raining down, even when I don’t see them, even when I’m not paying attention. But, when I sit up and take notice, my senses come alive and I don’t just think God is good. I know.

Because I experience God.

Because I take refuge in God.

Because I trust in the God of my salvation.

YES! The Lord is good. He is pleasing to all five senses. He is beautiful to my eyes, music to my ears, savory to my mouth, aromatic to my nose, and tender to my touch.

Because of Jesus, my eyes can see the goodness of God clearly. My ears hear perfectly. My mouth tastes pleasantly. My nose smells sweetly. My hands touch softly.

Whew. Thank You, Lord, for the culinary lesson. You add the umami to my life. Because of Your presence I can carry on…

The Freedom Swing

15155571-girl-swinging-high-in-the-airSome memories are just so……sweet.

Like me on a bright summer day swinging in a backyard swing. A child. Hair blowing in the breeze. Laughter riding on the clouds. Legs pumping  faster and faster, harder and harder, lifting me higher and higher. Forward…back…forward…back. That old rusty swing set came alive, one leg lifting out of the cracked cement hole in the ground then landing with a loud thump back into the burrow. Lift…thump…lift…thump. A parents’ nightmare but no one dared stop me.

I was free.

I never realized why this memory was so precious to me until I became an adult. There were so many things we didn’t talk about after my eye accident. I was a young woman before I dealt with my stuff. I must have been 30 years old when I finally asked my mom, “Why didn’t we ever talk about this?” Her response was simple, “We didn’t know what you were going through. We thought you would talk about it when you were ready.” Bits and pieces have come together over the years. Some memories of that season have finally made some sense. Like me-in-the-swing.

After my eye surgery I didn’t do too well in the hospital. What child wants to spend day after day in a sterile hospital room separated from all she holds dear? What child looks forward to dark, lonely nights in a bed without her parents in the next room? What child finds comfort in strangers watching over her and changing her bandages? Thank heavens things are different now than they were back in the sixties. Gone are the strict rules and regulations that kept hospitals free from germs and infections. There’s only so much a 3-and-a-half-year-old-child can understand. So after a while, since everything that could be done for me had been done, my parents just took me home. I was so happy to be out of that cold hospital with all that colorless gray that the first thing I did was run to my swing.

No more hospital bed with the raised, steel bars. No more women with white hats and men in white coats. No more lonely, fearful nights. No more gray.

Nothing but blue skies. Bright sunshine. Singing birds. My cat. My bed. My family. My home.

My swing. The freedom swing.

With the sound of my laughter riding on the wind I pumped my short little legs as hard as I could. Faster and faster. Harder and harder. Higher and higher. I returned to the same backyard where that rock flew out from under the mower and crushed my eye, but I couldn’t have been any happier. In just a few short years I would be trapped in a different gray season. Sometimes freedom comes with a price. This price I paid in years. Years of not talking. Years of not grieving. Years of not understanding. Years of not swinging.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t miserable by a long shot. I had a great childhood. Wonderful, loving, supportive parents. An in-your-face younger sister who made life loud and looney. A church family that loved all over me and a community of friends that live on in my heart even today. I played in the woods, climbed trees, rode horses and learned to ski in the Potomac River. I grew up wearing a cheerleader’s uniform, running around a track and swinging a hockey stick. I dressed up for school dances and dressed down for parties. I hung out with girlfriends and went on dates. I got my driver’s license. I laughed some more, but sometimes laughing was better in the swing.

I always wondered why I couldn’t talk about what I was feeling in my heart…why I didn’t feel pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough…why I backed off when someone got too close…why I spent so much time comparing myself to others, thinking I would never measure up. When a soul is in conflict there’s not much peace in the spirit. Not knowing how to be honest I just packed it all in and down it went, as deep as I could stuff it, wondering why I couldn’t recapture that pure and uninhibited joy swinging in my backyard swing that hot summer day.

True freedom isn’t free.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm,then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galations 5:1

As a young woman I let Jesus get into my mess and all that stuff I’d packed deep inside began to find its way out of darkness into light. As the showers of God’s grace rained down, seeds that laid dormant for so long began to sprout and bud. I began to talk and share. I began to grieve the loss of my eye. I began to understand God will always be enough for me…and…I learned to swing again. Like a child. Hair blowing in the breeze. Laughter riding on the wind. Legs pumping faster and faster, harder and harder, higher and higher. Forward…back…forward…back.

These days, my world is full of color. My favorite is yellow. I think it has something to do with the sun. More to do with the Son. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield.”  (Psalm 84:11) I love me some blue sky and when I look up at the clouds I remember, “He makes the clouds His chariot and He rides on the wings of the wind.”  (Psalm 104:3) But, I love the rain, too, because without it there would be no watering of the earth, no watering of my soul. “As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”  (Hosea 6:3) 

Maybe that’s why my memory is so sweet. God is all over it, all wrapped up in it. My Joy. Pure and uninhibited.

i. am. free.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

 

 

 

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