Thursday, April 07, 2011

New Vision - Austin

I had everything ready for this post before the phone call. I'd even saved the draft copy on the blogsite. Vi was a special family friend. With her husband, a crusty old many with a heart of gold, she babysat our girls when they were small. More than babysat, she loved them.

Vi delighted in dancing as a younger woman. But she has walked with difficulty and pain all the years I have known her. I wonder if she's dancing now?

I cried a bit this afternoon, rather glad for a load of firewood that needed stacking -- something to occupy me while my mind savoured special memories. I hope I can share a tribute at her funeral, or better yet, have one of my daughters share a tribute.

Vi never accomplished the things our world labels as greatness. A stay-at-home wife and mother, she fostored more than 100 children. She called them her kids. They called her "Mom." It's a little word, but it speaks volumes. We came on the scene in later years, but she still had measureless love to give to young children. She never accomplised the things our world thinks are great, but is there a better investment anywhere, than in loving children? I can't measure her impact on our family, and I've met only a few of the children she fostered. But I have a hunch there is a lineup in heaven, waiting to welcome her, thanking her, celebrating a life that has earned God's applause.

Vi needed a Giant Print Bible years ago, but found the bulk and weight almost too much to handle. She delighted in pictures of our grandchildren, although we never know how much she could actually see. I wonder what she sees today?

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Yellow crocuses will be blooming any day in our flower beds, although the snow has not yet given up. Daffodils will follow them very shortly. I can turn from this computer screen and watch birds in a pair of blue-spruce that now reach 30 feet high, though I carried them home in small pots and planted them many years ago. A pair of robins nest in one of those trees most years. A soft maple spreads branches with buds just beginning to swell. Pale blue seeps through the thin cloud cover. Jet contrails often etch that sky, although none show at the moment. In the past week I have seen and hugged every one of my grandchildren, one of them still scabbed from a recent bout with chicken-pox. Vision -- eyesight -- do any of us grasp the wonder, the blessing?

Years of progressive vision loss force the imagination to try to wrestle with the possibilities of blindness -- try to prepare emotionally. But I have too much vision still to enter fully into the mind of the blind. Recent improvements have given hope. So what insights can I bring to the story of someone like Bartimeous of biblical note?

When the prospect of pending blindness has been pushed back -- not fully removed, but somehow bathed in light and coloured with hope, maybe that's a good time to wrestle with Bartimeous' story. This is a poem I've worked at off and on for years. When hope began to rise a bit stronger, I was finally able to bring something new to it.

How does someone born blind even imagine the colours of a rainbow? How many times have most of us looked, marveled a little bit, but gone on as if it was less than a true wonder?

Can you imagine a life of blindness -- interrupted by the first sight ever -- the face of Jesus? I wonder if our first glimpse of eternity will be something like that?


Blindness -- they call it a curse.

But they don't hear a bird's song like I do.

They scarcely know the whisper of wind in the treetops;

the soft kiss of a summer shower.

Ah, there is much in their world that I cannot see.

Yet they, with eyes wide open rush blindly through.

Blindness -- they call it a curse.

Much I've missed. Much they take for granted.

I've never gazed on an infant's face,

never seen the veins in a fallen leaf,

the blush of a flower.

But can they plumb the depths of the smell of an orange blossom?

Can they number the nestlings from the chirps

where that sparrow nests -- just over there?

I hear the whisper of a falling leaf.

I know the footfall of each who makes this village their home.

Blindness -- they call it a curse -- God's judgment.

But is God so petty?

He gave other senses, more alive than any around me.

Were this His curse would He have so blessed in other ways?

Many the ills He's been blamed for.

Those who too often tip the bottle or roll the dice

rage at God when hunger draws cries from their little ones.

Are they, who rob the very children God has blessed them with

less cursed than me?

Blindness -- they call it a curse.

It leaves a man almost helpless in this world;

begging a crust

that these stumbling feet should find their dark pathway for one more day.

But -- there is a teacher, a wonder-worker some say.

Impossible, the things He's done.

Lepers clean? Cripples walking?

Dare I believe it so?

Even -- hard to imagine -- Nay, I will not speak it.

What kind of world to we live in, if the dead get up and walk?

What world when cripples dance and deaf men hear?

When the dumb speak?

What kind of world do we live in

when the leper is made fresh and clean as a child?

What can even a blind beggar depend on

if the graves give up their dead?

The priest who "blesses" me each morning with a kick,

reminding me of God's "righteous judgment,"

has no use for such a world.

He scorns this healer; scorns to share alms with me,

yet willingly shares his hatred.

His world I understand.

His the message of all my years.

But this healer? Who is He?

Dare I hope for His touch?

A crowd approaches.

I hear the noise, smell the dust.

And. . .

I hear the Name.

His -- Name.

From the shadows I've cried all my years,

begged a few coins while avoiding tramping feet.

But today let me come before Him.

For that I'll dare anything.

What will it mean?

What are the colours of a rainbow?

He calls?


For me?

Knees in the dirt? For once if feels. . . right.


that I might receive my sight."

Copyright Brian C. Austin

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

A rich post, Brian.
A lovely tribute to a humble soul, rich in love.
A poignant colourful lead-in to your poem.
Sensitizing verse to open the eyes of minds and hearts to Bartimaeus' world in which he dared to hope.
Thank you.

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