Tag: God

“God will give you your sight back”- Why I’d Be Pretty Peeved.

I am currently staying in a Christian community house. It’s a long story. Up to twenty people live under this one roof and many more pass through the doors on a daily basis. Being here has the feel of being a part of the world’s biggest family and I’ve met so many interesting people with amazing stories to share. I will write more about living in community on Saturday… But for now here is a good old-fashioned Thursday cuppa blog…

My week has been mostly spent walking, sleeping, cooking, playing and (sort of) praying. It has been hectic. On Tuesday evening, a few nights into my stay, I was approached by J. J is a young man from Africa who has come here as a refugee. He is one of the most passionately religious people I know and is a lovely person to be around. I was eating my nightly satsuma at the table in the community room whilst having a theological discussion with him when he said this:
“God is telling me that if you follow him you will be healed, you will regain your sight.”
My heart instantly dropped. I will admit my respect for him then faltered.
I’ve been here before, in fact at one point my own Dad used to hide pictures of saints under my bed asking them to heal me. When I told him politely that I didn’t actually want to be healed he seemed slightly shell-shocked.

The truth is, though I have only had sight loss since the age of eleven, I can remember far more of the past few years than I can of the ones where I had full sight. I think you do the most growing in your teenage years, and I’ve done that now as a VI person. It is what I’m used to. I would have to relearn things if I got my full sight back- what is pretty/ugly, how to understand shower controls with my eyes rather than my hands, how to look for somebody in a busy place.

In all honesty I like being sight impaired. I feel that the world is more beautiful through my current eyes. The way colours mix and blur together, the way I can see through my hands and the way I am not constantly bombarded with visual distractions. I live in a calming blur, the kind most people need pricey drugs in order to achieve.

Now don’t get me wrong- having sight problems is by no means ideal. I’d love to be able to read normally and not have to worry about mobility and vision aids etc. But the truth is… If God gave me my sight back I would be pretty peeved. I am happy just the way I am.

So thanks, but no thanks.

This Thursday's cup of tea

Flying, Trees and Unfiltered Beauty

Dalby forest has always been one of my favourite places to be. For exactly that reason, it is a place to simply be. For a person who spends the majority of their time on the internet in one form or another I am surprisingly against the way technology has crept into every corner of our lives. I think it is harder to develop ideas due to this: as soon as one thought comes into your head you tweet it, and with a zap of wifi it is gone from your head and given to others instead. No one pays much attention to where they are anymore- they will find a spot of beauty to put on instagram but in the bright lights of their phone screens they will not notice the beauty of the tree bark, or the stars, or the clouds ambling above. What isn’t being realised is that social media is acting as a filter for our senses and our minds, we are remembering through facebook status’ and not the way things felt, looked or tasted. It isn’t enough for your mind to store things for you anymore, it has to be burnt into cyberspace and shared with others as if their minds are sociological hard-drives for backing up your personal memories. Stop. Just stop. This advert from 2011 makes my point.

I’m not trying to sell you a holiday here, but you get the idea. One of the things I like about Dalby Forest is that it is a signal black spot, not a jot of signal to be found in the entire forest. This is probably partly to do with it being situated in the North Yorkshire Moors (a location not renowned for its connectedness to the outside world) and partly because it is just acre after acre of very tall and beautiful trees. So even if you do take pictures on screened devices while you are there you at least get time to take in your surroundings, and the reason you felt taking a picture to be necessary, before sending it into social cyberspace. There are a lot of things to take in too, you don’t need to look very hard to see the unavoidable abundance of nature and greenery. However in the words of William Blake:

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

Even if you aren’t quite as enthusiastic about trees as myself you will at least note the height and expansiveness of these particular ‘green things’. They are everywhere. And yesterday it was in these trees that I climbed.

Go Ape is an adventure outward-bounds type assault course suspended in the tree tops of the forest. There are several places around the country that you can try similar, but be warned it is not for the faint hearted. I took on the challenge of Go Ape with a friend and despite me being the one in the team who is not scared of heights it was still slightly hair raising at times. I am not a monkey, nor a bird, and being 120ft in the air is not the ideal place for a humble human. After signing some documents in case of fatal injuries we were given a rigorous half hour training session, which involved mostly learning how to attach yourself on and off each platform and the importance of being attached to something at all times. Once actually on Go Ape we were confronted with many challenges: from your average balance beam to tarzan swings into cargo nets. Just in case you were to forget whilst on the huge wooden structure that your life was in your caribbeanas’ metallic gates, there were giant yellow signs on each activity with a picture of a falling man on. The poor man who was careless with his caribbeanas…

We managed to survive the adventure just fine, and definitely kudos goes to N for getting someone with low vision around the course in one piece. The highlight was certainly the zip wires which flew me through the air and between the trees in line with the birds. It is a strange feeling to be doing nothing, literally just sitting, but to be travelling so fast and doing something that humans were never really meant to do. I could feel the space around me; in my toes I could feel the ground they are accustomed to walking on so very far below and in my hair I could feel the oxygen that the trees had pumped fresh from their leaves for mankind to hold in their techno-addicted lungs. That’s when, at 120ft and approaching the ground, that I decided that beauty is found in different ways, in different things, by different people. Like William Blake says, what I don’t notice is someone else’s Mona Lisa. Then I hit the soil.

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