In 1966, I was born without my sense of sight.
I surely was but a speck on the horizon of my mother’s womb whence I first beheld the world of unseen beauty. In the distance, I could have heard her beckon me to that place where vivid whispers from sources of light and shadow are like paint on canvas. The sophistication of artwork in such an acoustic gallery is beyond the spectrum of perfect eyes.
I had entered the realm of such possibility.
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While I have since lived most of my years with partial sight, my overall gifts of other acuities has made possible my exceeding life experience and, thus, has heightened my hindsight perspective.
I am confident that I would not have come so far had God not once advantaged me with the full handicap of total blindness. I pray that, by my true story, you would be so inspired to such faith in the One who touched me and made me whole.
“What’s That Noise?”
To the day when I captured my parents’ remembrances of my birth and infancy, their accounts had been consistent and, in and of themselves, corroborative of each other. During and after their marriage that bitterly ended in my twenties, they had otherwise been quite disagreeable toward one another. But their collective memory of my first year – presented in large part by my father in a letter that he wrote in 2012 – had clearly endured with details that ring true with accounts of old acquaintances as well as lend explanation for aspects of my capability.
At birth, I appeared to be a healthy 7.69 lb. baby boy.
After a normal stay at the hospital, my parents and much-older brother brought me home to commence with their adjustment to me as a baby and newfound family member. But they began to wonder, within a few days, if I could see them.
When they would quietly walk into my room and approach my crib, my eyes would be open and fixed. When they would make a noise or speak my name, I would jerk as though they had surprised me. My eyesight problem became so evident that, after four months, our family doctor referred us to a specialist.
“My retinas were so underdeveloped and deformed” at birth that, until I was almost one year old, “I could only distinguish between light and darkness.”
After an extensive examination, the Ophthalmologist advised that my retina had not developed properly. He concluded that I could do no better than to distinguish daylight from darkness and that I could only detect shadows. When we returned two months later and, as I sat on my father’s lap, the doctor tested my response by waving a toy light pen near to my face and by toggling a small light in a far corner of the room . . . but to no avail. The doctor had confirmed that, in fact, I had been blind since my birth and, after his genetic analysis, he explained that my condition is maternally hereditary, suffered only by male offspring, and had been passed down to me after four generations.
My doctor then recommended that, when I would turn four years of age, I should be admitted to a school for the blind where, away from my home and family, I would reside in its institutional care for months at a time.
“I learned how to crawl, walk, and run without my sense of sight.”
Although I had more than three years before my parents would send me away for special schooling, I would already well apply my functional means to interact and develop. The guiding hand of my mother had been orienting my reach and made proper my handling of bottles, pacifiers, toys, and – of course I could never forget – my childhood dog who, as my little playmate, would unwittingly boost my listening and mobility skills when he would entice me to pursue him, squeeze myself behind furniture, and persist until I could anticipate and duck unscathed beneath surfaces throughout the house during high-speed chases. And my hearing became so acute that, at nearly six months, I once did notice the subtle sound of a mechanical problem in our car and had already the language skills to more than beg the question, “What’s that noise?” But I was so alert and sensitive that I would be troubled and, hence, cry if for too long during the day I could not hear familiar voices or movement in the house; a world to me without such ambience would have felt cold as isolation of pitch-black solitariness.
Sweet Hour of Prayer
There was a house of possibility where my parents would enter with their utmost disappointments in and concerns for my well-being. In the weeks that followed my diagnosis and prognosis, the righteous-seeking people of that sacred abode would together bear the burden of prayerfully lifting my need before God.
“…your faith has made you well.” (see Luke 18:42 NKJV)
A small Wesleyan Church was the house of worship where a true servant of the Lord ministered to my parents with fellow congregants who embraced the entirety of God’s Word and who sincerely believed in the power of genuine prayer. And the Pastor would be quick to say in response to prayers and faith that, not he but, God is the One who answers and does the good work.
I was nearly a year old when, as Dad settled with Mom in a pew to hear the Pastor’s Sunday sermon, a call “like an audible voice” but supernatural and apparent to only him – or so he thought at first – urged him to “have Jeff [me] anointed for healing.” But Dad was so moved to interrupt and request of the Pastor anointing once, to his surprise, Mom, who was not yet aware of his experience, whispered to him that such a mysterious beckoning for the sacrament had just been spoken to her heart.
Upon the altar I was then laid as people of the Church gathered around me.
My parents had not forgotten and, as my father wrote, “…would never forget the hush that came over the congregation” when I crossed my eyes as would eyes naturally cross that are not yet conditioned to focus. They could all see me squint in wonder at my hands and their faces as, in awe, they stood of the event that they had just witnessed. The faith of prayer warriors had become evident because of the miracle of my sight.
The Pastor put away his sermon that day to yield to the spirit of “a holy quietness” that had captivated the hearts of all who were present. All one could occasionally hear was a whisper of praise or subtle weep of joy, for my gestures were of someone who had first-ever glimpsed the visible world of discovery where, at the feet of Jesus, such miracles are possible. The atmosphere of reverent stillness nonetheless sustained after we and the saints around us had, eventually, retired to the pews to bask in the light of that sweet hour of answered prayer.
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