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by Al Carden

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Dec. 25, 2020

I have spent my entire life dealing with eye doctors pertaining to nearly going blind in my left eye due to amblyopia. After my surgery back in 1957 at the age of four, I spent the next ten years experiencing therapy to strengthen my left eye. I became acquainted with eye doctor jargon related to how vision was measured. In the United States, the Snellen Eye Chart is a test that eye doctors use to measure a person's visual acuity. It contains rows of letters, numbers, or symbols printed in standardized graded sizes. If the smallest print you can read is line 3 (T O Z) from 20 feet away while wearing your regular glasses or contact lenses, the doctor records your vision (or visual acuity) as 20/70. That is exactly what my visual acuity was in my left eye.

My right eye, however, was 20/20. After many years of therapy and numerous eye glass prescription changes my left eye improved to 20/20 with glasses. Today, if I take my glasses off my left eye’s vision is mostly blurred. The reason I am offering this particular entry has to do with national visual acuity. Here we are coming to the close of 2020. You would have thought our ability back in January to see changes that were unfolding on the other side of the world would have been easily noticed. But that wasn’t the case. Even when people began to recognize that there was something medically serious beginning to surface on the other side of the globe our ability to see was blurred. It was as thought our visual acuity was more 20/70 than 20/20.

It appears that our visual acuity continues to jeopardize our ability to see clearly. Even with evidences all around us based upon over three-hundred and twenty-nine thousand deaths in the United States alone attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, some still fail to either acknowledge it or believe it is real. Now that there is a vaccine hopefully this will mark the beginning of the end of this pandemic. So I offer at least the comparison of the year 2020 with the visual acuity of 20/20 in hopes that what we have been able to see and learn about this corona virus has opened our eyes to grasp a new understanding about humanity.

Sometimes when things happen that we have never experienced before it can be very unsettling. We listen for voices that will tell us that what is happening isn’t real. In essence we listen for certainty because certainty seems to dispel that feeling of panic. Walter Brueggemann was one of my seminary professors. I remember taking his Psalms class. One of the important aspects of his teaching was making a distinction between psalms of orientation, disorientation and reorientation. What I became most aware of with these three distinctions parallels life.

2020 began in a state of orientation. Life was basically moving forward like any other calendar year until disorientation changed everything. I believe I can truthfully say that the year 2020 has been a year of disorientation. We have witnessed events this year that I have never experienced from racial unrest to political upheavals. I do not know how long this disorientation will last but I feel confident that re-orientation is coming. I leave you with this thought: Ephesians 4:6 There is only one God. He remains the ultimate Father of the universe. We are because he is. He is present in all; he is above all, through all and in all. May our ability to see based upon what we have experienced in 2020 cause our visual acuity to become re-oriented.