Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight
About a month ago, I was sitting in my office having lunch at my desk. It was a quiet Friday afternoon and I was alone in the church. After finishing my yogurt, I decided to take a break from starring at my computer screen. I could feel my eyes growing dry from starring at the monitor all morning.
I stood up from my desk and wandered over to the large bookshelves that line the walls of my office. I am a bibliophile at heart and my shelves are filled to overflowing with a variety of books: poetry, theology, church history, Methodist history, Christian nonfiction, and even some guilty genre pleasures like sci-fi, fantasy, and historical romance.
My fingers came to a stop as they found the spine of a thick tome. It was a textbook that I had used in college entitled An Introduction to Reading and Understanding Poetry. I gently pulled the book from the shelf and smiled as I regarded it’s slightly worn cover and the brightly colored Post It Notes bursting from the edges of its pages.
“Hello, old friend,” I murmured to myself as I opened the book at random. “It’s been a while. How time flies.”
*(Please don’t judge me because I talk to books alone in my office. Scientific studies show that people who talk to themselves are more creative and better problem solvers than people who don’t!).
I felt my heart give a little lurch of excitement as I flipped through the pages. I had been incredibly weary these past several months. My summer had been anything but relaxing and restful.
Dear Reader, perhaps you also know what it feels like to be exhausted. I thought that perhaps some lovely lines would be exactly what I needed to help me unwind during that quiet Friday afternoon.
As I perused the pages, a random title jumped out at me. It was a poem by T.S. Eliot entitled The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
“Here’s a piece that’s worth rereading!” I thought to myself.
I’ve always favored the neoclassical period (Woohoo! Mr. Alexander Pope for the win!),but lately Eliot had been growing on me. I had explored The Wasteland on my Kindle over the summer and been surprisingly impressed with it. Perhaps I would find a new appreciation for Prufrock now that I was older.
I have a complicated medical history and I’ve had glaucoma since I was four years old. The painful thing about glaucoma is that it is the silent stealer of sight. Sight slips away, bit by bit, over the years. There are long stretches of time, sometimes years, before one can notice what they have lost.
I carried the book back to my desk and began to read- or tried to do so. As I focused my eyes on the text of the poem, I was horrified to realize that I couldn’t make out a word. Frantically, I began turning the pages. While I was able to read the large text of the titles, the tiny print of the poems themselves was all but indecipherable to me.
The blurry pages in front of me were a glaring reminder of what had once been. I had graduated from college 2011. Seven years ago I could have read that text. It would have hurt my eyes after a time, but I could have managed it.
Since years had stolen Eliot from me. .
Yes, I could still read them on a Kindle or an iPad, but I feel as something is missing if the words are not viewed on an actual printed page, especially when it comes to poetry.
How had I not noticed sooner? How hadn’t I noticed that I had been steadily increasing the font size on my iPhone for years and that lately I tended to opt for audiobooks instead of print?
I stood up from my desk and stalked over to the bookshelf once more. Then, I snatched the Harper Collins Study Bible, which I had used ruing my years in seminary, and opened it at random.
It fell open the book of Psalms.
It was a blow to see that the Psalms were indecipherable to me as well.
My vision blurred even more, but this time it was not because my eyes were dry and tired. Biting my lip to hold back tears, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What kind of a pastor can’t even read the Bible?”
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this sermon on my website at "Rev. Rebecca Writes: Read, Write, Pray"
This sermon was originally delivered on 21 October 2018. I received some of the inspiration for this sermon during the Order of St. Luke retreat. You can find out more about the Order of St. Luke by visiting our website.
Rev. Rebecca Holland, M.Div. O.S.L.
Hello! My name is Rev. Rebecca and I serve as the solo pastor at Christ Community United Methodist Church. I believe that preaching is one of the most important aspects of my job. PWhile I have done my best to commit my sermons to writing here, please know that the art preaching is an oral act. When I prepare sermons, I often include images, video clips, music, props, and ways to engage physically with the message. I love to gather with our church family to worship and sing hymns to God; I absolutely love to share the Word of God with people.