From black and white to color, for real

August 2, 2013

I stopped into a local store to buy my mother a little gift for my upcoming visit, and was pleased to see Sue behind the counter.  I also know her as the mother of one of Jordan’s classmates, and she had told me last time I saw her that she was going to have another round of eye surgery.  I think the surgeries have been transplants of the cornea.  I think she had had two over the years, and each time eventually she became functionally blind again afterwards, after some period of time.   She explained why it seemed reasonable to try again — I think her doctor thought her underlying disease is in remission, so the transplants might last longer.  She said she was looking forward to seeing her son’s face for the first time in nine years.

So I asked her how she was doing, since I knew she had had the surgery between that last conversation and now.   She said she was doing pretty well and that she was glad to be coming into the store for a few hours a day now, and that soon she would be getting some glasses.  But already she was thrilled, she said, because for the first time in a long time, she can see color.

Wow.  In the spiritual metaphor business, going from black and white to color is a big favorite.  I often think of “The Wizard of Oz” with Judy Garland.  Or Paul Simon’s songs “Kodachrome” and “My Little Town.”  But here’s someone who has actually had the experience literally, not metaphorically, spiritually, or through art.  Wow.

Of course, this is not to gloss over the fact that Sue copes admirably with a difficult situation.  When she told me proudly she could tell I was wearing a hat, and explained that she wouldn’t have been able to before, I realized just how remarkably well she had learned to compensate before — I had thought she could see better than she had been able to.

Anyway, I love when I see a literal physical manifestation of what I usually think of as a spiritual metaphor.


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