The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling
My name is Nancy and my words were “Ground Hog.” This is how we start our contemplative prayer time. I had that happy feeling of coming up, out of the ground, and into the world. Driving out of my underground parking garage, I blinked, not once, as my eyes became accustomed to the light. I squirmed a little, navigating my car through the open door of the garage. I was wearing new prescription eye-glasses, a change from my habit of wearing a contact lens. In both cases, my new prescription sharpened my vision; but the progressive glasses made it harder for me to navigate the sharp turns and narrow exit of the garage. My groundhog vision felt a little blurry with my glasses.
I was curious to see how my monovision (one contact lens in the right eye, nothing in the left eye) would be different from my vision with new glasses. So I decided to wear them to the contemplative prayer group at Bethany House. I had been absent for many weeks and I wondered if people would recognize me, or notice the difference. I imagined someone might say something like “Hey, I love your new glasses.” Or, “Wow, you look younger now that you’ve finally come out of hibernation and joined the rest of us in the fashion eye-wear department.”
Nobody said a word, other than the usual “hello.” As I sat in the prayer circle, I suddenly realized that the glasses had an effect on me. Curiously, I felt some protection that I didn’t have with my contact lens. Like putting one’s hand to one’s mouth, I felt as if my glasses were a buffer between them and me. I felt less vulnerable. I realized they also framed my attention; they helped me to focus on someone or something more clearly. Perhaps that was true in reverse. My glasses framed my eyes and my face for those who were speaking to me. I also felt a new kind of power, kind of like Clark Kent. There I was, hiding behind my glasses, with x-ray vision of others, knowing that I could find a phone booth and change into someone else. I could go underground and come back up. Me without my glasses.
As I adjusted to my new glasses, occasionally I felt a little dizzy. My world was temporarily destabilized. I realized this during our contemplative prayer time. I had decided to leave the dark chapel, and walk outside for a while. Once outside, I had to stop and steady myself. I put my hand on a stone wall, and waited for a moment. I soon focused my eyes on the little blue and white flowers that were pushing through the freshly turned earth in front of me. I blinked, not once, as my eyes adjusted to the light, and then started to walk again.
In “Prayers for a Questioning Heart” Macrina Wiederkehr encourages us. “Don’t be a settler, but rather a pilgrim on the Way. Make of us a wondering, far-sighted, questioning, restless people. And give us feet of pilgrims on this unfinished journey.”
I wondered about my initial two words and my new vision in the context of prayer. It occurred to me that I was no longer a Ground Hog, but a Leap Frog. Near-sighted and far-sighted, I can see clearly now. Whether I am underground or in the clear light of day, I can see. I see that I am a pilgrim, settling for a moment, here and there. Occasionally I need to steady myself, re-focus on the beauty of creation, give thanks, and then move on.