So, last Thursday I had a cornea transplanted onto my eye. At first I thought that the eye-shield was going to be the most annoying part of the recovery process. I learned the truth when the covering was removed. Light hurts and it hurts a lot.
Yesterday was Sunday morning and a parishioner was on the phone with a gentleman I was praying for in the church parking lot. She waved me over to talk with the gentleman on the phone. The only problem was that the sun was out and she was parked in the light. I reached the edge of the shade from the church, stepped out, and recoiled. I covered myself with my arm and suddenly realized that I had just pulled a move straight out of a vampire movie.
Over the course of a couple of hours I went from a denizen of the day to a creature of the night. The following verses have been altered from Psalm 130 to fit my recent circumstances: (NRSV, morning changed to sunset)
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope: my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the sunset, more than those who watch for the sunset.”
Last night I literally caught myself getting excited about sunset. When the sun went down I literally grabbed my keys, hopped up and down, and then went out to Wegmans where I walked around with sunglasses getting the things my wife asked me to grab if I was going to go out of the house anyway.
It made me think as I went to lay down to sleep. When was the last time I was that excited for the dawn? For that matter, when was the last time I was that hopeful and expectant on God to show up in a set of circumstances?
I was waiting for this surgery for three months. You would think that waiting for surgery would be a moment where I waited with anticipation, but to be entirely honest, I felt myself surrounded by prayer and felt a sense of peace. I was relieved when they found a cornea and I was excited when I saw one blurry and distorted sight, especially as the phantom extras of keratoconus were gone–it was just a blurriness, which was a vast improvement. I felt relief, excitement, a titch of concern, and a million and one other things, but was it more than the excitement which a watchman has for the dawn or even a transplant patient waits for the darkness?
Perhaps this is privilege at work. I have lots to pray for and lots to care for, but let’s be honest. My life is surrounded by an illusion of safety. The police are a phone call away, the fire department is around the corner, and the ambulance squad is literally a couple of hundred yards away. There are no invaders on my borders and frankly the biggest nuisance animal in my life is a squirrel who keeps driving me nuts. I live a sheltered life and I generally don’t need to wait for the dawn.
The question I have in this moment is whether or not I can learn to appreciate and live with those who do not have the same certainty and sense of security. Can I truly appreciate what it feels like to be unsafe? Can I truly understand what it might be like to not have trust in the institutions around me? Can I live into those places where others are not as privileged as me? Can I work to either share that security or reject it when it comes at the cost of others?
Jesus taught that we should treat others like we would like to be treated. Perhaps this is a moment where I can sit in the dark and think about what it means to want flee from the things that make others feel so safe.
By the way, I don’t say “Blah, blah, blah…”