September 15, 2019

Blind To Our Ultimate Purpose In Life

Helen A. Keller (1880-1968)

My mother was blind. She had lost her sight when she was about 40 years old. She went home to be with the Lord when she was 88 years old. So my mom lived more than half of her life deprived of sight. But in spite of her handicap, my mom had a fantastically joyous outlook on life, she loved to travel, she had a terrific sense of humor, and amazingly, she could “see” in her dreams.

I know that my mom could see in her dreams, because on one occasion mom told me about a dream that she just had on the previous night. She said that in her dream, she and my dad were driving past a beautiful park. They stopped the car, parked it and walked into the park. She said that the images in her dream were very vivid and that the colors of the flowers and trees were absolutely brilliant. In the center of this beautiful park was a large group of people who were all looking at and listening intently to our Blessed Mother. Mom said that our Blessed Mother was beautiful beyond description, and as she gazed upon our Blessed Mother, mom was filled with a profound feeling of peace and love. Mom said that she then turned to my dad, but he was not there. She felt frightened. Mom depended on my dad for everything. He was her “eyes” in life. She looked everywhere, but dad was nowhere to be found. Mom said, “I am telling you about this dream because I fear that dad may soon be leaving us.” A few months later my dad did go home to be with the Lord.

Yes, my mother was blind, but when my mom and I would talk and I would describe things to her, she knew and understood the colors in my descriptions because she did have the gift of sight for 40 years of her life. But I always wondered how different it must be for a person who was blind from birth. How would you describe a color to someone who was born blind? And would an individual who was born blind be able to “see” in their dreams?

I recently read a story that offered some answers to my questions. The story was about a young woman named Vicki Umipeg who was born blind. (Mindsight, by Ring and Cooper, pg. 469-499) Vicki said, “A lot of people ask me if I see black? No, I don’t see black. I don’t see anything at all. And in my dreams I don’t see any visual impressions. It’s just taste, touch, sound and smell; but no visual impressions of anything.” (Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, pg. 31)

When Vicki was 22 years old, she was the passenger in a car that was involved in a terrible traffic accident. Vicki was seriously injured when she was thrown from the vehicle. She was transported to the hospital. While in the hospital, Vicki said that she left her body and found herself looking down and seeing the doctors and nurses working on her body. But since she had never “seen” anything in her life, Vicki said, “It was hard to adjust to, and seeing was scary at first. But then, I began to like it!” (Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, pg. 31) Vicki was eventually revived, and afterwards she described in great detail her near death experiences.

As I read Vicki’s story, three things impressed me. First, Vicki had never “seen” anything in her life, and she never even had any visual images in her dreams. Suddenly being freed from that handicap, and being able to “see”, was initially frightening to her. Secondly, Vicki could not describe the colors that she “saw” in her near death experience because she had no experiences in life upon which to base that description. And lastly, Vicki said that when her near death experience was nearing an end, she was made to understand that she was to return to mortality to “learn and teach more about loving and forgiving.” (Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, pg. 34)

Helen Keller (1880-1968), once said, “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know, because in that other room I shall be able to see.” Helen Keller was born both deaf and blind. She spent her adult life traveling all over the world, fighting for improvement in the education and life of the physically handicapped.

We all tend to be blind to our ultimate purpose in life. Whatever gifts, handicaps, abilities or limitations we may have been blessed with in life, our primary purpose in life is to learn how to perfect the art of loving unconditionally.

In the Gospel of Matthew (10:37-42), Jesus makes it abundantly clear that our love of God must be the ultimate priority in our life. And this love that we have for our God is to manifest itself in the love that we have for one another. All of the relationships that we have in life must ultimately be subordinate to the Lord’s Kingship over our life. But the spirit of love must be the guide that directs all of our thoughts and actions.

The Apostle John said it best in his first letter. “Let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God. The man without love has known nothing of God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

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Written by
Deacon Donald Cox

REVEREND MR. DONALD COX is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 9, 1979, Deacon Don was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, an important American Father of the Second Vatican Council. He is currently assigned to St. Cornelius parish in Dryden, Michigan. Married and the father of three children and grandfather to four children, Deacon Don was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at St. Brigid Elementary School, Mackenzie High School, and Lawrence Technological University. His theological training was taken at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

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Written by Deacon Donald Cox
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