It started with a startlingly large black spot.
I was restraining 80 pounds of enthusiastic puppy from bounding through an open door when I saw it: a dark, sinister object floating in my left eye. I blinked, stood up, and rubbed my eye in the hope I'd oust an errant eyelash invading my vision. But rising and sinking, twirling and spinning hypnotically in its sea of ocular fluid, the amoeba-like invader remained. I'd experienced small "floaters" in my eyes before. Yet this one's unexpected onset—not to mention size—concerned me. I shot a quick prayer to God for peace to replace panic. Then faced with an annoying floater, a too-quiet house, and an energetic puppy prone to mischief, I decided to distract my pup and myself with a road trip to the dog park.
As I wound through the rural roads leading to this pet-lovers' sweet spot, the visual beauty of all I drove past overcame me. Fields of silvery, wheat-like stalks offset by burnished burr oaks and a barn or two; rusty potpourris of leaves scuttling across pavement; roughened whitewashed fences guarding still-lush lawns; clay pots brimming with orange and gold mums; a cloudless cerulean sky; sunshine spilling over everything, glittery, bright, and bountiful.
I suddenly remembered a few lines from the poem "God's Grandeur," by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which I'd studied as a literature major in college many years ago:
"The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil."
Despite that ever-present black spot that levitated across my left eye's vision, I saw God's grandeur flaming out.
Not long after my time at the park—spent delighting over the beauty of my dog's shining black coat, white-toothed grin, and pure joy as he leapt through tall grasses—the lightning flashes in my left eye began. Each time I turned my head, light burst along the periphery of my vision. I knew I needed to visit the ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
The next day, my eyes stinging from yellow drops, I endured a thorough eye exam. Using intensely bright light, my physician carefully scrutinized my retinas for signs of a serious problem. A couple hours later, with pupils still dilated to a frightening degree, I rode home from the eye clinic with good news: my left eye had no retinal tear or detachment.
I wondered, though, how God's grandeur would have continued to, as Hopkins wrote, "gather to a greatness," if my sight somehow had diminished.
Sitting on my sofa in the dim evening light, I petted Boomer's silky fur and pondered how often I take my sight for granted. And in that moment of quiet reflection, God reminded me he's not just Lord of umber, maize, cerulean, and terra cotta. He's God of soft touch and rustling sound and earthy scent, of chill and warmth, loud and still, tart and sweet. His glory wouldn't be—couldn't be—confined to only one sense. Because, as Hopkins concludes,
"And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." Hallelujah!
But for now, I'm grateful to have eyes to see God's glory—even if they're hampered slightly by a pesky floater and flashes.
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
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