A tear in my eye?

(Tear in the title is pronounced with a long a, not a long e.)

A feeling of relief swept over my as the doctor stepped back and said, “Everything looks good.” Two weeks ago, I was in for my annual checkup with the retina specialist. A few years ago a colleague had repaired a tear in my right eye. Now something had shown up in my left, aka my “good” eye. I hadn’t noticed any changes in my vision. Asymptomatic is the term the doctor charted. A little lasering was the treatment he prescribed. (I’m sure there is more clinical-sounding word for that.)

eye laserSo an assistant numbed up my eye, I put my chin and forehead on the “look inside your eye” machine, and the doctor got to work with a trigger in his hand and an intensely bright light shining in my eye. For about ten minutes he fired shot after shot around the tear to isolate and attach anything that might come loose. There was a soft sound kind of like a “pew-pew-pew” over and over again as he called for his assistant to increase the power after each round. It didn’t really hurt. The sensation was like someone was in my head poking a blunt stick on the back of my eyeball. Annoying but not painful.

When it was all over, the assistant rinsed out my eye, put a patch over it and said, “Wear this for about an hour.” I asked, “Any aftercare instructions?” “Nope,” was his reply. “We’ll see you in a couple of weeks.” Oh. Ok. And just like that I was done and out the door. It turns out that was the easy part. Now I had to drive home with a patch over my good eye and my so-so eye fully dilated. It was only a mile or so, but I vowed right then and there to get a driver from now on.

For the next fourteen days I was ultra-sensitive to every little floater, shadow, blurriness, sensation that might indicate that something wasn’t right. Nothing happened during that time, but I was hyper-vigilant.

Finally it was time for my recheck. My driver dropped me off and left to run some errands. The doctor only dilated my recovering eye, peered in at every possible angle with two different kinds of light, and announced, “Everything looks good.” For the rest of the day, none of the floaters or shadows bothered me at all. Those three words made all the difference in the world.

On his way out, the doctor said, “We’ll want to see you more than once a year now.” I replied, “I’ll come whenever you want. Thank you!”

Eyes are pretty amazing. So are the doctors who specialize in the care of eyes and the correction of vision.

Visionless?

David Hayward recently wrote a few blog posts about being visionless. The way I read this, rather than being a church that is driven towards goals by mission and vision statements, a church could instead just be the people of God who freely shared forgiveness, compassion, mercy and the gospel.

One of the reasons his posts struck in my mind is because I’ve never been good at “vision casting.” I don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to express a compelling vision around which the church can focus its ministry. However, I am very good at identifying when the church is being the church, when it is reaching both in and out, ministering to people in an amazing variety of ways.

For me, the most amazing part of this is that I had little to do with it. Recently, I made myself a list of the outreach ministries our congregation was involved in, ranging from stocking the shelves of a local food pantry to leading after school Bible clubs to distributing quilts and prayer shawls. I had very little to do with starting these ministries (which number somewhere abound a dozen), and I’m not a part of their ongoing work. This all comes from the hearts and souls of an amazing collection of people.

The only thing I can remember communicating was that if someone had an idea for ministry, they had to make it happen. If it wasn’t heretical or illegal, they pretty much had my blessing and support. Slowly but surely, they took me up on the offer. And maybe that’s what my vision was all along.

Hoping to catch a glimpse

In the Treasury of Daily Prayer the other day, August 3, it was the day to remember Joanna, Mary, and Salome, the women who brought spices to Jesus’ tomb very early on the first day of the week, the third day after his death. At first glance, their work doesn’t seem to be anything of great significance. They were just doing what anyone would do for a friend who had died. Yet, they became the first to see the empty tomb and proclaim the resurrection.

The readings and prayers came in a timely fashion, as I have been lately wondering, “Now what?” As our congregation enters into her fall programs it feels like the same old same old. I don’t have any compelling vision to cast before the congregation, just encouragement to keep doing what we’ve been doing. How do you stay motivated when the work becomes routine and unexciting?

Perhaps it is in the routine proclamation of the word and administration of the sacraments that we get a chance to witness the life-giving grace of God. Maybe it is exactly a time like this when I should have my radar on, so that I don’t miss what God is doing among us and in our community.

Casting vision is something I’ve always been told is very important for a leader, but never something I’ve been good at. Each day I hope to catch a glimpse of those lives that God touches and calls into his kingdom by the Gospel.