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Blind Visionary

I have recently been having trouble keeping track of my glasses. Just before I went for a personal retreat to Christ in the Desert in mid-March, I remember choosing to take my plastic frames and to leave the metal ones at home. Haven’t seen the metal frames since. I’ve turned the house upside down, no joy.

Then, after a trip to Texas, I couldn’t find my prescription sunglasses. This is a hassle because I cannot read the GPS in the car without them. We did a wonderful roadtrip to Oregon for a week and I was frustrated having to change my glasses the whole time so I could either see to read or have protection from the sun. While unpacking after the Oregon trip, I found my prescription sunglasses in the bottom of my laptop backpack. I looked through that bag, many, many times, but did not find them until after I was back in foggy San Francisco and didn’t need them so much. But yay, a win!

Yesterday, I picked up new prescription glasses and put the old plastic ones in the new case inside my string backpack. We went to dinner at a friend’s home not too far away. Somehow on the way home, I lost the bag. Maybe in the cab that we jumped in because it was late, cold, and MUNI wasn’t coming for 30 minutes? Ugh. Now I only have one pair of prescription glasses and am now missing two other good pairs.

Perhaps I should think of this as just a normal sign of aging and forgetfulness and be content with the fact that growing older brings more losses. But I’m usually pretty good at hanging on to my stuff and this seems very specific. For example, I’m not losing my keys or phone or wallet. Just my glasses.

When I first started wearing glasses about 10 years ago, I found the progressive lenses a real and visceral form of education in the philosophical discipline of hermeneutics. As I looked up or down, the focal points of my ability to see kept shifting. I was literally seeing things differently every time I moved my head!

How we “look” at the world is shaped by the lenses of experience, education, and our ethical commitments plus most of us have some unconscious lenses that also change how we see things. For example, my social location as a European-American living in San Francisco changes the way I view the war in Ukraine compared to a Russian living in China. I try to “account” for my point of view in a responsible way, but it is pretty unconscious.

So for some reason, I seem to be unconsciously forcing myself to confront my inability to see without glasses. Recent research into creativity and insight suggests that it is difficult to have either if one is too focussed. We literally cannot see the forest if we are too busy looking at the trees.

Time to give into the blindness and wait for the vision because I feel it is on the way.

Churches and other institutions can similarly be too focussed on the details of paying bills, keeping committees humming, and programs running to see the big picture of what it means to be church in the 21st century. And without this wider vision, the church will certainly perish.

I am really not happy about losing my glasses, but I am hopeful that I will soon be gaining some perspective.

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