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What We See Better with Eyes Closed
Tribute to a Blind Woman
What fascinated us was Miss Muggie's phenomenal insight, seemingly supplementing her physical sight.
We were primary school children, but now as an aging woman, precious memories of this blind woman still surface on days when I recall the heroes of my personal faith. In this tribute to her, the intention is to make the reader aware of some personal features we may see better with our eyes closed.
According to Dr. Karl L Weunsch, the compensation blind people experience is perceptual, not sensory. It comes with learning and practice, as he further explains it in the quote below.
Blind persons may learn to use their intact senses more effectively, even though those senses are no more sensitive than those of sighted persons.— Dr. Karl L. Wuensch
(1) Character Values
Miss Muggie did not live in our community at the time we knew her, but she must have at some time before we were born. She made us think that she knew all our parents (I doubt now that she did) and was determined to know us too. We would watch her take one child’s face between her palms and feel the shape. Then she would run her fingers over his or her cheeks, nose, ears, lips and make statements like:
"You’ve got your father’s ears; I hope that you will be obedient like he used to be when he was growing up."
"These are your mother’s lips; I hope you speak some of the same nice words I have heard her speak."
"This is your mother’s beautiful face; now, you just have to be beautiful inside as well."
We all waited our turn for her to tell us what she saw in us. She made us proud that she thought so highly of our parents. The words Miss Muggie spoke empowered our self-worth and our respect for our parents. She helped us see their worth. With her eyes closed, she could see how important such observations were in the lives of children.
Whenever Miss Muggie came to the afternoon service, she got the opportunity to share her talent. She either told a story or sang a song. The story I remember very well, because my mother never let me forget, was about the many household chores she did in the dark, without bothering to light her lamp (we did not have electricity at the time).
The entire presentation was humorous with audience participation.
“I make my bed in the wee hours of the morning,” she said, “and I do not even light the lamp.”
“I pick up things and put them in their proper places aaand” that was her prompt for the audience to finish the sentence. “I do not even light the lamp.”
“I dust the shelves and sweep the floor, aaaand.”
Ever after that story, my mother would tell me, “If Miss Muggie could do it without sight, you don't have an excuse.”
That was my cue to see and do what needed to be done, even if perchance my eyes were closed. Thank you, Miss Muggie, for empowering my mother (not that I liked it) to underscore the need for personal responsibility with regard to household duties.
Miss Muggie’s solo rendition of How Great Thou Art (translation of lyrics by Carl Gustav Boberg 1859–1940) was my introduction to the song. Her soprano voice, clear like a crystal dinner bell, invited the audience to share the blessings which inspired her faith. She sang confidently:
"O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars . . ."
To this day, whenever I sing the song or hear it being sung, I close my eyes and see the stars. I have also discovered that with eyes closed, is it easier to hear the “rolling thunder”, the “birds sing sweetly,” the “brook”; and to feel the “gentle breeze” as the song describes.
Miss Muggie taught us that appreciation for the works of nature is not limited to the ability to see. Faith and trust in the Creator enable a deeper appreciation than the physical senses can. Or, as Helen Keller expressed it, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”
With Picture Presentation
Those were the days when air conditioning and burglar bars were non-existent in country homes, schools or churches. The windows were fully open during daylight, and even sometimes at night. Whenever Miss Muggie came to church, she had a strange request.
“I’d like to sit by the window,” I remember hearing her say.
“To see what?” I always wondered, looking at her, looking straight ahead. There was nothing she could see through the window with her eyes closed; maybe, she wanted to feel the breeze.
Anyway, I have stopped trying to figure out her reason. Whenever that memory surfaces, it brings with it valuable lessons which I have shared often:
- Distraction from outside an open window is less of a problem when our eyes are closed.
- Whenever the physical view becomes seductive, we can close our physical eyes and switch to the mental focus.
- With our eyes closed, we can change perspective as often as we wish.
We all face the challenge of seeing our way through life. With our eyes open, it is difficult; and with our eyes closed, although the difficulties remain, we see different solutions that we do not see until we close our eyes and focus mentally.
It takes someone like Helen Keller who lost both her sight and hearing at nineteen months, to make us aware that with eyes closed, our view is limitless.
"Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful."
"It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears."
"I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world."
"What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me."
In addition to our gratitude to God for our sense of sight, it is also wise to appreciate what we see better with our eyes closed.
Music by Neville Peters, blinded at age six months by Glaucoma
© 2014 Dora Weithers