Writing Prompt: Lens of Faith

SONY DSC I want to talk about something miraculous, but religion is a tricky thing to write about. Not everyone believes the same way. Talking about God can run the gamut from being out-of-fashion to being down right insulting depending on the listener and the attitude of the one doing the talking. This isn’t a story about religion. It’s a story about a miracle that happened to me.

Back in 1990, about six months after I graduated from college and just before Christmas, I was writing Christmas cards when I noticed my eyesight was blurry. Tired eyes, I thought, but they bothered me enough that after a doctor’s appointment for some gynecological issues I was also experiencing, I decided to walk next door and see if I could make an appointment with an eye doctor. I told the receptionist my symptoms, which now also included flashes of light and a headache, and she rushed me in to see the doctor. I found it peculiar how quickly she took me and soon became frightened when after checking my eyes, the doctor asked me to come into his office. He told me I needed to head to the large medical center, 30 miles south, right away. They would be waiting for me. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“You have a brain tumor,” he answered.

I began crying. “You asked,” he said.

I cried harder, remarkably also feeling like I had to apologize to him. I explained how I had been having other problems with my menstrual cycle, how stressed I’d been. At menstrual cycle, he stopped me, wrote something on a paper, and said there was a chance it could also be something else.

Dazed, I stumbled back next door to my primary care physician and told him what had happened. He called the specialist, read the note, and explained there was a chance it could be this other thing, a pseudo tumor cerebri. “Pray it is,” he said.

It was a pseudo tumor cerebri, a disorder with symptoms similar to a brain tumor – a build up of pressure behind the optic nerve. I was within minutes of going blind and required treatment with lumbar punctures and steroids. I was hospitalized and try as they might, none of the regular treatments seemed to work for me, even after the doctors discovered that Retin-A and a bad dose of tetracycline contributed to the disease. My primary care physician wanted a shunt put in my brain. My mother would read the Bible to me – Psalms 91: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

In the hospital this passage comforted me. I told the doctors I didn’t want the shunt. We continued the lumber punctures until I couldn’t stand them any longer. Months passed. I thought often of the Psalm, “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday….” What was my pseudo tumor if not a terror and a pestilence? I thought.

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand may fall at your hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” I will observe with my eyes, I thought. I will observe with my eyes.

I told the doctor no more lumbar punctures. I got better. My eye healed.

Years passed and then over a decade later one of my eyes started to bother me again. It became blurry, the vision changed. I saw several eye doctors. Most feared that the pseudo tumor had returned or suggested it could be something worse. They sent me to get an MRI, looking for a brain tumor. It was okay to have two eyes with blurry vision; one suggested something bad. I lived in fear. I attended a service at a local church. A skinny evangelist, red-faced from shouting, called me out of the audience. He told me to raise my hands and he began to pray, telling me I was scared. He could feel the presence of fear all around me. He was right! He then began to quote Psalm 91: “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness…” He did not know about my eyes, nor did he pray for my healing, but I knew a miracle had happened. I was no longer afraid.

I visited my eye doctor a week later. He checked my eyes and said they had returned to normal. He said there was no explanation and labeled my condition “idiopathic” meaning the cause was not understood. “Be thankful,” he said. “Your symptoms suggested something bad, but now they are gone. What did you do see a faith healer?” he joked.

“As a matter of fact, I did,” I answered back. He did a double take, shook his head and smiled. “Well, it worked,” he said.

Today, I went to the eye doctor for a regular check up. It has been many years since I had anything to worry about. This doctor declared that while my history was outstanding, my eyes today are boring. In fact, they keep getting better. Although I wear glasses, one eye has no prescription and better than 20/20 vision. The other, although it sees better close up, is not bad at all. They call my vision “fuzzy 20/20” almost perfect. “You can wear your glasses at night when you’re driving if you want things just a little crisper,” the doctor said. “You may find yourself not wearing them at all.” I wear them as a fashion statement and as a reminder that there are some things we cannot see with our eyes. Some things require a lens of faith.

Writing Prompt: Have you ever experienced a miracle -- large or small? Something you can't explain through normal means? Write about it...