Logo Luke Johnson Youth minister @staidanchurch, webmaker @codigoworks, founder @getliturgized,
papa, godfather, Canadian, Homo Eucharisticus

The saga continues. Since I was about 5 years old, I knew I had weak vision, and that I could expect my vision to weaken further throughout my life, possibly resulting in blindness in my latter years.

Today I learned I’m at risk for “acute Glaucoma attacks”, meaning that the pressure in my eyes could change suddenly in a matter of hours and do some serious damage. Sounds scary, but I’m scheduled for a simple laser surgery on Ash Wednesday to shoot tiny holes in my eyes to help release the pressure that Glaucoma causes.

After experiencing so many of these types of doctor appointments, I actually feel compassion for the doctor who has to tell me the news. This has been a fairly constant and frequent plot line in my life, and so I wonder often if I’m more prepared to hear a diagnosis than the doctor is to give one. That being said, though, it is difficult to receive the diagnosis each time because it means things are getting worse and not better.

But here’s the thing: It’s the season of Epiphany, a time for recognizing where Jesus is at work within us and in the world. Each time I’ve encountered an escalation of my vision issues, I’ve also encountered an Epiphany-moment that I’ve come to recognize as Jesus’ reminder that I’m not toiling on alone or in vain.

When I was 19 it was my college RA, Jon Kramer, who sat with me after a chapel service one night, asking, “Do you think God is surprised by this? Do you think he might have things for you to do that are yours to do, maybe even especially because of what you’ve experienced?”

In my late twenties it was 81-year-old Gladys, who, at that age, was discerning a call to vocational ministry. Herself barely able to see, she single-handedly compelled her city’s health region to fund food for the homeless in a neglected area of the city.

Today it was a kind, young, Arab woman working at Tim Horton’s. She was deaf and couldn’t speak. She patiently bore with me as I tried obtusely to ask for a straw for my son’s juice. She didn’t make apology for not being able to respond in word, or didn’t make motion to indicate that she couldn’t hear, or didn’t respond impatiently at my inability to use sign language, but smiled kindly as she mimed things she could retrieve for me.

People are walking stories. In the stories we read, we can notice structure, type-scenes, contrasts, character development, foreshadowings, echoes. I don’t think it’s any different in the stories we live — it just takes a while to start to recognize what’s going on. I told my youth group last night that telling our ‘Epiphany stories’ (of where Jesus shows up) is part of growing Epiphany muscles. The stronger these muscles grow, the better we become at noticing where Jesus has been, and the better we become at anticipating where next we might meet him.

So, who knows? Maybe I’ll be blind in 5 years, 50 years, or not at all. Whatever the case, I’m grateful to be learning to see what can’t be seen with eyes.