Honouring the lamps of the body

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. ‘

[Jesus Christ]


I sat in my bedroom and my heart raced at the sight of an ugly red flower forming in the bottom of my right field of vision. It slowly unfurled and I tried to quell the sense of panic as the dark red splodge moved upwards (in reality downwards) until my entire vision was filled with a carmine coloured, swirling mosaic, akin to looking through a glass jar full of marmalade. It made me feel ugly. I tried to move my right eyeball to avoid the blockage but it travelled with me. I was completely blind in my right eye. 

I felt claustrophobic in the days and weeks ahead and tried to ‘get on’ with life – but I couldn’t avoid the fact. I had lost my sight, despite countless laser surgery sessions, as a result of diabetes related retinopathy. I told the eye surgeon, an excellent doctor at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, that I needed more time to decide on whether I should go ahead and have the recommended operation, known as a ‘Vitrectomy’. It is a major operation that involves putting a needle into the eyeball to suck the bloody vitreous gel out before injecting a gas bubble into the rear of the orb.

I knew the real answer but I needed headspace. I went backpacking by myself in The Netherlands for a week and caused an accident when I didn’t see a bicycle on a road. I couldn’t run away from the reality of it. I had to change my way of daily life. I relied on my remaining eye more, slowed down and listened before moving anywhere, took my time when doing things. All the time this repulsive, thick claret-flecked curtain stayed with me, swishing in my vision and preventing me from simply seeing the world around me. 

I returned to Brighton and agreed to go ahead with the operation. The medical staff were amazing and guided me through it all. I woke up to find my right eye bandaged and feeling hot. For the next two weeks I had to lie face down for hours on end to ensure the gas bubble stayed at the back of my eye. And it worked! One day, when the bandages were off, I sat in the lounge and looked at letters on the wall. The water in my eye sunk down and there was a momentary magnifying effect, which was simply fascinating. And then I could see again! Back to work in no time! Three months later, I was skiing in the Spanish Pyrenees with my eyesight mainly returned. 

I went to my local eye dept for a check-up in Swansea last week, where I now live. My eyes still need monitoring and there’s a possibility the big operation will be needed in my other eye but, for now, they are doing well. 

Our bodies are more fragile than we acknowledge. We rely too much on our mortal senses for our eternal sense of wellbeing: what we can see, hear, smell and touch. As Jesus says above, the eyes are lamps for the body. I think that what he is really talking about here is positioning. The flesh we wear is so temporary, so fickle – it’s not everlasting. But it’s still considered to be a temple for the Holy Spirit. And that’s why how we position ourselves is so important. As it says somewhere in the Bible (I’m sure you can find it): ‘We are not looking at the things being seen, but the things not being seen. For the things being seen are temporary, but the things not being seen are eternal’.

If we have the blessing of eyes, let’s use them for God’s glory! Focus them upon reading the written word of God (Bible) to grow in understanding, on looking into the eyes of others to show compassion and understanding, and also to take time to see God’s creation all around us, and thank him for it! More than that, we must bear our spiritual focus, our spiritual eyes (so to speak) on eternal things. Meaning: ‘see’ the beauty of the Father of the heavenly lights himself.


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