Blind, Chapter 7

The following is a fable, posted in small chapters. One morning the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window. And I wondered how often we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1 ¦ Chapter 2 ¦ Chapter 3 ¦ Chapter 4 ¦ Chapter 5 ¦ Chapter 6

In murky blackness he floated. Silent, spinning, aimless. Pushed aside by hidden gusts, he spun faster and faster, until he felt sick to his stomach. He felt like he was being pulled apart, stretching thinner, expanding to the point where he could feel the dark air swirling between his molecules. He was losing himself. Soon there would be nothing. Where was he? It was like nowhere he had ever been, yet too familiar.

Then came a sound from a far distance, an aggravating, clanging sound. The man sensed that it disturbed the darkness. It sent ripples through it. Pulled and shoved in every direction, the air swirled around him as if contending with the sound, protecting it’s prey. Then it stopped.

Through the waiting silence that followed, another sound emerged. It was completely different then the first. It was beautiful and comforting. Beams of wispy light emanated with the sound like long fingers. Glowing, it stretched forward and surrounded him. The sound sung with rhythmic cadence, and as it did, the light all around him suddenly squeezed…

blinds_upsidedownThe man’s wife had just finished leaving a message for the kids on the answering machine when he awoke with a gasp. He was back on the floor. His eyes now wide open, he took quick but shallow breaths. Was that a dream, or …? He tried to focus on the ceiling again, but all he saw was darkness. He tried to look away, but it was everywhere.

Panic set in again. His eyes darted back and forth, frantically blinking to get them to work.

Nothing. He cried out. His voice echoed through the room and down the hallway, but no one was home. The kids were at school and his wife had long left for work. He already knew that, but it left his lungs before he could hold it back.

He coveted sleep, but he didn’t want to chance returning to that place. He wanted to cry, but there was no strength. So, he just lay there, blind and helpless, mind swirling. As each thought passed through, he gave into it’s torment until there was only quiet. He thought back to earlier in the morning, and how nice the warmth felt on his skin.

Why did he react so strongly the second time? Pulling away seemed silly now as he was lying on the cold floor. And then there was that beautiful sound. It almost felt the same.

His hands reached up to inspect his lip. He had tasted blood. It didn’t seem that bad, but his mouth throbbed. He would need to make it to the bathroom to rinse it out, if he could make it there! Why could he not see anything?

It bothered him that the darkness he suffered in did not feel strange. It had the same weight as the weariness that has been pulling on him for months. Had he been blind since then? It just seemed so impossible to live that way for so long. Yet, he could not remember the last time he could see. It might even be years. Any recent memories were anchored in sounds, or a smell, or taste. How could he not have known? Did his family notice? Co-workers? Nobody said anything. If he didn’t know, how could anyone else?

The darkness staring back at him had become so encompassing over time, that he failed to see it at all. But why now? Why did he only come to realize it now? It was all so confusing, except one thing. That warmth. What he knew for sure was how wonderful and peaceful it felt.

For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, the man made a choice.

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Blind, Chapter 6

The following is a fable if you will, posted in small chapters. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window. And how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1 ¦ Chapter 2 ¦ Chapter 3 ¦ Chapter 4 ¦ Chapter 5

As he sat in his chair with his eyes closed, the man’s mind was swirling. His jumbled thoughts and numb feelings pulled at him in every direction. So tired

Please. Just stop.

The man leaned forward in a feeble attempt to change perspective; to change anything. He buried his head in his hands and managed a muddled sound. Leaning even further, his face fell full into the sun as it streamed through the window. His clouded mind collided with a blast of heat.

The man was so startled that he struggled to his feet, and in his panic tripped over the ottoman in the middle of the floor. Fighting for balance, he fumbled out of the room and fell against the far wall in the hallway. He slid backwards onto the hardwood floor. He stayed there, frozen.

Where did that come from?

How could he not see an ottoman that had been in the same place for years? But it wasn’t just that. His mind raced through the day. It dawned on him that he could not remember seeing anything… for a long time. His mind came into sudden focus.

I’m blind.

blind_1Paralysis gripped his chest as his lungs grasped for breath. What is happening to me? Am I dying?

He threw out his hands in search of the banister that led upstairs. Smashing his elbow into the spindles of the staircase, he struggled to stand up. He slid his hands down the railing until they reached the bottom.

He swung around and scrambled up the stairs on all fours. As he did, he tried to reassure himself.

I just need a moment. If I could just lay down and breathe, I could figure this thing out!

Halfway up, his right foot landed on his son’s hockey ball. He recognized immediately what it was. The hard orange ball did not have much give. Oh no.

The ball flung out from under his foot, firing his leg backward. His face came down hard into a step. Before his hand could find something to grab, he tumbled down the stairs. When he landed, he rolled onto his back in pain on the cold hardwood floor.

He opened his eyes, but it didn’t change the view in front of him. It was still black and… Wait. Did something just move? It was near impossible to tell, but somewhere behind the dark, there was even a blacker darkness. I must be going crazy, he told himself. It’s probably my

Again!

He was sure he saw something the second time, but before he could move the blackness pounced.

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Blind, Chapter 5

The following is a fable if you will, posted in small chapters. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window. And how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1 ¦ Chapter 2 ¦ Chapter 3 ¦ Chapter 4

For hours the sun had been moving slowly across the windowpane, waiting for its opportunity. In fact, it had done so for months anticipating a moment just like the one that was about to happen. There would only be mere seconds to accomplish what it needed to do. Soon. Very soon…

Now.

The sudden warmth across his face startled the man. It was the very same feeling he had earlier that morning. He remembered how warm and inviting it was. This time, it seemed much more intense. Still he was not expecting it. In his surprise he sat back in the chair and just outside the sun’s reach. The cold was quick to return.

The contrast between the two feelings was much more prominent. The warmth was clearly coming from somewhere far away. But the cold… it seemed to be all around him.

And inside too.

Photo Credit: Michaeldavid54, Compfight, ccHe reached out his hand to where his face had been. Heat. A curious thought crossed his mind that somehow, he might have a choice here. That he could actually decide between the two. That his choice would matter.

Matter? For a long time now he had accepted that he had no choices; that he was helpless.

This place he now sat, strained and exhausted, was the only future he could see. No, this it it for you. This is your life. Whatever glimmer of hope the warmth provided was already stretching thin. Even if it was possible to decide a new path, choices required strength. And he had very little of it. This stifling existence had become all he knew.

He sat on the emptiness of that thought for a while.

But what did he know really? He could never put his finger on it. There was no way to describe or quantify it. Yet it was always there, smothering, sucking the life out of him. He thought back, and vaguely remembered a day when it was not there. It must have been another life altogether.

Only one thing seemed clear to the man, which he could not shake. It troubled him that he never remembered feeling cold before. At least not before he felt the warmth on his face that morning.

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Blind, Chapter 4

The following is a short bit of fiction, a fable if you will, posted in smaller chapters one at a time. I’m not exactly sure how it will end. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window.

I was thinking about how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1 ¦ Chapter 2 ¦ Chapter 3

The man sat in his front room, oblivious of the fact that the morning sun streamed through the cracks between the blinds. It was as if each tiny beam of light clamoured desperately to reach him, but fell short. If he could have heard each one calling his name, it would have been deafening.

He continued to sit, staring out of a window he could not actually see. In his hand was a heavy mug. He sipped his coffee slowly, intentionally stretching it out to justify delaying the day that waited for him. He convinced himself that a few minutes more would give him what he needed to get through it.

There wasn’t anything specific in his calendar that troubled him. It was just life in general. It was becoming increasingly difficult as the days passed. Soon the coffee became lukewarm. He continued to sip.

He was becoming more aware of this daily struggle, though not yet of the darkness that pulled on his arms, and weighed down his feet, or covered his eyes. He was still in too confused a state to recognize that, but not enough to know that something was wrong.

He suddenly felt the cold again, and sat up straight.

It triggered a memory that felt like years ago, but was only a few short hours. He set the coffee mug down on the table beside him.

Where did he feel that before? It felt so familiar.

In tired frustration, the man leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. His mind formed a prayer that never escaped his lips. His head flopped down into his hands. As it did, his face broke the path of a single stream of light straining upwards from between the blinds.

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Blind, Chapter 3

The following is a short bit of fiction, a fable if you will, posted in smaller chapters one at a time. I’m not exactly sure how it will end. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window.

I was thinking about how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1 ¦ Chapter 2

The alarm blared once again in his ear, interrupting his moment of peace. Just as quickly, the cold returned to his face.

Without thinking, he slid his legs over the edge of the bed and started across the room. Even though he was slipping into routine, it would not be a normal day. That morning pause would prove to be the beginning of his pathway back from the dark.

He did not think of it again until later that morning, long after he got dressed and made his way down the hall to wake up the children for school. He had learned over the years that the two little ones had to be woken differently. He did so with a little bit of humour, although mostly for his own amusement. It wasn’t always appreciated, but it almost always did the trick. At least they were old enough to get themselves ready.

Next, he entered the kitchen to prepare the lunches. He would hear footsteps scurrying and water running from the bathroom above, behind the slapping of lunch meat on the slices of bread.

Eventually, they would converge on the kitchen and scramble to eat something before throwing on their outdoor clothes. The cry of the arrival of the school bus next filled his ears. After quick goodbyes and hugs, the house became quiet again.

Photo Credit: stuant63 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: stuant63 via Compfight cc

This daily swirl of activity was actually comforting to the man. In those moments, the sounds of life compensated nicely for the lack of sight that handicapped him. It felt like there was hope and life in his day, even if it had to come from the kids. Oh to go back to a simpler time.

These busy mornings helped his mind hold back the weight of his crowding thoughts, even if for an hour.

As the stillness returned to the house, he often experienced a moment of dread. It was the same feeling every day, and it was hard to pin down. It seemed irrational, and yet it still filled his head.

If he could have, he would have watched as dark tendrils surrounded him, tightening around his waist and neck, pulling him deeper into the dark.

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Blind, Chapter 2

The following is a short bit of fiction, a fable if you will, broken up into smaller chapters, which will be posted one at a time. At this moment, I’m not exactly sure how it will end. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window.

I was thinking about how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

Chapter 1

The affliction with which the man unknowingly suffered, had indeed taken it’s toll on him. Blindness had been grinding him down slowly. Each morning, he awoke weaker and with less vision than the morning before. And now, for many months the man has been completely in the dark. He was lost, and simply had no idea.

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He awoke as he did many times before, but for the first time, something nagged at him. Normally, he would have been up and moving by this time.

Not today. Was he coming down with something? He hadn’t been feeling particularly spry the last week or so, but he had no cold symptoms. He did feel tired though.

He was tempted to close his eyes again. He would have loved nothing more than to turn over and slipped back to sleep. Yet there were things that needed to be done. There certainly was he told himself. But he wouldn’t have slept regardless. It was more than that; he was definitely restless. Something is wrong.

These stretched out moments provided the opportunity for what was about to happen. As he lay there, a single beam of sunlight had been traveling through the window blinds, across the floor and up the side of his bed…

Every other morning, he would have slipped into his routine and left the bed by this time. Later on, he would see the irony that it was not the darkness that triggered the unease, it was something else entirely. Because of his condition, he would feel it first before he would ever see it.

Wait, what was that?

He focused a little harder. Yes.

There was definitely a warmth on his face. It was so slight, but unmistakeable. It felt really nice. He lingered there, soaking it in, afraid that should he move even an inch, it would disappear. His enjoyment tempered the bite of a troubling new thought…

That he did not realize he was so cold.

next chapter

Blind, Chapter 1

The following is a short bit of fiction, a fable if you will, broken up into smaller chapters, which will be posted one at a time. At this moment, I’m not exactly sure how it will end. I was inspired one morning as the sun peeked through the blinds covering our window.

I was thinking about how we tend to block out the light…


BLIND

The man stirred as he emerged from a deep sleep. The alarm clock patiently buzzed, growing louder until his arm flailed outward and hit the snooze button. It was quiet again.

Eventually, he opened his eyes.

As he has done for many months, he awoke in complete darkness. Even though the sunlight squeezed through the blinds which covered his bedroom window most mornings, the man could not see it.

Day after day, he would get up and go about his day functioning essentially blind, yet completely unaware.

The blindness in which he lived his life was not a sudden event. If so, he would have recognized it as soon as it happened. No, the change would have been too much of a shock for him to remain as he was. For him it was a slow, gradual loss of sight that was so incremental, he had no idea it was happening.

With each passing day, he subconsciously adjusted and coped with his diminishing capacity. His mind had feebly, but successfully filled in the gaps left by his lack of sight. The subtle routine repeated each day allowed him to miss what was happening to him. If he at all stopped, allowed himself even a moment to rest and reflect, he may have noticed that something was terribly wrong.

But he hadn’t.

Yet all through this slow regression, he led himself to believe that he was a fully abled person. But nothing was further from the truth.

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Silence Isn’t Always Golden

The common phrase, “silence is golden” has been a staple of conventional wisdom tracing back through many centuries and cultures to the ancient Egyptians. And to this day, mothers have proved faithful to pass down a similar piece of advice to their children:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”

It is true that holding your tongue will often speak louder in certain situations than letting it loose. Especially in times when we might be a little hot under the collar. “Biting our tongue” will likely prevent a regrettable moment of hurt or stupidity. This path is always a safer way to go.

There are times however where silence can be ripe with misunderstanding and frustration. Lacking information, we tend to fill the holes with our own fears and insecurities. Relationships will go through times of difficulty and disappointment. It is inevitable. Each of us is fully capable of letting the other person down. In these instances, silence left too long will often make the situation worse.

In Matthew 5, Jesus offered a unique take on these situations,

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person.

Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

We normally place the burden of reconciliation on the one who carries the offence. We want them to work through their stuff and repent. After all, it’s their problem right? Why should I take the “walk of humility” towards them, when they are angry with me? I did nothing to warrant this!

Here, Jesus flips it and puts the onus of responsibility on the one who is not offended! In effect he says, “Be the first to make peace”. Leaving silence to rule the day is not an option for Jesus. Rather, peace is more important than pride. Reconciliation is more valuable than being right. God calls us to this lifestyle, because that’s what He does. God has always taken the first step towards people, for peace.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” - 1 John 4:10

“…our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies…” – Romans 5:10

I’m really glad God did not stay silent, even though our sin caused us to carry the offense against Him. If you aren’t quite sure about that, consider Genesis 3. Ask yourself, “who was searching for who” after the first act of sin? Ever since, God has continued to search for people, far past the gates of Eden.

If you are left standing in silence, and it is not golden, ask God to give you grace to take the first step. He will help you, because that’s what He does.

He is good at it.

<Reposted from “faithwalk” at newhopeottawa.ca>

Giving Up Giving Up

It is both incredible and embarrassing to me that I have not written anything anywhere for quite a long time. The months seems to have flown by and yet feels like forever since I have sat in front of this keyboard to write anything meaningful other than the weekly sermon at church. Yesterday marked the first Sunday of Lent. It is arguably the most significant season of the Christian calendar.

I have noticed an increase in talk about Lent, and participation in varying ways among Christians. Much of it surrounds what the person plans to give up for Lent, in a simplistic attempt of penance and denial, a historical lenten value and posture.

I heard somebody speaking about this, comparing the spiritual depth of the current fad of denial during Lent to resolution-making at New Year’s Eve. It is so true! A week later, the fuel tank of best intentions often runs dry. What does it really mean for most people anyway? The whole point of fasting and denial is to carve out time and space to worship and focus on the Lord and His work on the Cross.

I admit that I have not made any commitments to fast or deny myself for Lent this year. In fact, the thought occurred to me that I might need to start something to focus more on the Lord. Or, more accurately, re-start something that I have been neglecting the last 6 months or so: writing.

I’m confident it will feel like penance.

The words do not flow as easily as they have in the past. It is more like turning the handle of a rusty crank engine, hoping for a spark. Fortunately, Lent allows us the opportunity to give up that which keeps us from focusing on Christ.

In my case, it is “giving up” on that which I am supposed to do. It also is a reminder that like Jesus in the wilderness, we can trust our heavenly Father to provide all that we need, to do what we need to do, even when we are in need.

Fog

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving up the large hill that greets me every time I leave the city on the way to my home. Over the last twenty years, between our own house and my in-laws, I must have traveled this highway many thousands of times. Because of the elevation in altitude, our weather can be surprisingly different than our friends in town. As I was cresting over the top of the hill, I drove straight into a dense fog. I have always liked fog. I find it so cool. The heavier it is, the better.

When I was a kid, I loved to wake up in the morning to have the fog surround me as I walked to school, obscuring the neighbourhood, erasing all that stands behind. The world became a private place.

As I drove I noticed that my headlights were not helping. As neat as it is to watch the light beams emanate from the front of the car into nothingness, they were almost useless. They only lit up this fuzzy wall that loomed before me.

Suddenly, I felt less confident on the road. I travel it countless times, each curve taken by instinct than intention, yet it became strange and unfamiliar. I slowed down, my eyes darting for anything familiar. I gripped the steering wheel with both hands. The shortened lines on the highway offered little warning of an impending turn. Dipping into a valley, the fog lifted slightly offering more perspective, only to crouch in once again as I reached the top.

foggy_road_squareThe fog is beautiful when you are still, even comforting. But when you must move forward it can be disorientating. As much as this is true on the road, it is equally so in life. I have found that times of physical, emotional or spiritual fog can hardly be described as beautiful. Yet, it affects our “environment” in the very same way. It muffles the sound. It mutes out the colour. It weighs down the air. It obscures our vision. It erases the line on the horizon, our last resort for perspective.

Fog is disorientating and at times even fearful. However we are forced to continue forward, because there is no time to stop. To do so would allow the fog to creep in even closer. So we move forward, yet restrained on previously familiar ground, stumbling cautiously where we once ran.

But to run would be foolish. To pretend the fog is not there is incredibly unwise, nor is it an exercise of faith. To deny this current reality is not real faith. It is simply lying.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” - Hebrews 11:1

Genuine faith does not “unsee” what is actually in front of us, rather it sees something else that isn’t. We do not act as if the fog is not there, but by faith we know there is more behind it. Fog merely covers and obscures what is even more real.

When the sun eventually comes up and has its way, the light and warmth cut through quite convincingly. Soon our vision improves and we can see as far as we care to.

What to do in the meantime? For starters, avoid hitting the gas and flicking on the high-beams. When in a fog, slow down and be okay with it. Take your time and look for familiar markers along life’s road to help navigate between the ditches. These markers look like the support from family members, good friends, prayer, community worship, scripture, hobbies, music, nature. Whatever breathes life into your spirit.

These things can act as eyes of faith that see past the fog to the warm, sunny day on the other side.

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