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Speaking to the Soul: Eye Exam

Speaking to the Soul: Eye Exam

Week of Proper 22, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)

Hosea 14:1-9

Acts 22:30-23:11

Luke 6:39-49

I was relieved to learn at my eye exam last week that I’d passed a test of my peripheral vision. There was a lot at stake in this test: I have a very large optic nerve, which puts me at risk for glaucoma. At this time, I’m still able to spot both bright and dim flickering lights in the full range of my vision. But I must repeat this test and have my optic nerve measured every year, because there’s no other way to find out whether my field of vision is closing in on me.

My eye doctor very patiently explained how glaucoma, the “silent thief of sight,” does its work. Basically, those of us with untreated glaucoma slowly but surely develop tunnel vision as our peripheral vision deteriorates. Just as our mind’s eye fills in the blind spot found in everyone’s physical eye, our brain simply supplies visual information wherever our eye itself leaves gaps. As glaucoma progresses, our brain completes the pictures that our eyes don’t actually see. We don’t notice all of the vision that we’re losing until it’s too late.

Today’s gospel gives us an eye exam, beginning with a reminder that it’s nearly impossible to notice what we aren’t seeing. Jesus asks his disciples, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” As Jesus points out, sometimes we just don’t notice huge obstacles to our own vision. We’re filling in whole areas with pictures from our mental store of assumptions, not even realizing what we aren’t seeing. And sometimes, our field of vision narrows dramatically to zero in on the specks we think we see in others, rather than noticing logs of our own.

Using a drawing of an X and a dot, my eye doctor was able to demonstrate my blind spot to me. I focused on the X and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the dot disappear when it fell into my blind spot. In terms of the gospel, my doctor successfully pointed out the “speck” in my eye. My doctor will also help me look out for the logs that I won’t be able to notice without his expertise (and his really cool machines). Christ our physician does this work for us, through the Spirit’s conviction and through the many voices and perspectives that surround us. May our reflections and conversations today reveal the specks and logs that obstruct our vision, especially on the peripheries where we first lose our sight.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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