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Reflections June 2018

Do Our Eyes Cause Impaired Vision?

By Lynn Walker Gendusa

Have you ever noticed that once you get to know someone well, you are no longer aware of the difference that you initially saw with your eyes?

When my granddaughter was three, I asked her how old her mother was. "Ten!" she replied with certainty.

"Your father?"

"Ten, too!" was her absolute answer.

"Well, then Avery, how old am I?" Without looking up to my face, she answered, "You are three, just like me!"

Avery saw me through the bright eyes of a child. She had deduced that I was her age because I would play with her, converse with her on her level, and was her best friend. I was three, just like her.

Children teach us valuable lessons in life. They judge not by what they are told or physically see, but rather by what they feel in their innocent hearts.

As we age, we begin to see things we didn't notice before. People look different in our eyes. We are often guilty of grouping folks into categories with names. Often, we find it difficult to see beyond our group. They are conservative or liberal, wealthy or poor, black, white, Hispanic, or any other ethnicity that is not ours.

Have you ever noticed that once you get to know someone well, you are no longer aware of the difference that you initially saw with your eyes?

I recall going back to college in the ‘70s when I was a young mother. We lived in Birmingham, Alabama, and times had changed since I had left high school. I was now in an integrated school population for the first time.

I always thought racial divide was stupid in the first place, so I was very comfortable with my new world. There was a young lady that had every class with me since we had the same major. We became fast friends.

She and I were walking across the quadrangle on a hot spring day, rushing to our next class. She was drinking a bottled cola as we walked. "May I have a sip?" I asked as I grabbed it out of her hand. Since she had not offered to share, I laughed as I took the sip, "How rude are you anyway?"

She stopped dead still as I strolled on babbling. It took me a minute before I  realized she wasn't at my side. "Gloria, come on, we are going to be late!" She was still not moving and staring at me. "I’m sorry I took your drink; I was just kidding!"

"No, Lynn, that's not it. You drank after me!" she said with tears brimming in her eyes.

"I don't understand. Are you sick?"

"No, I am black!"

With all the emotion that was happening between us at the moment, God gave me the perfect response, "Gee, I hadn't noticed." She cried all the way to class as I put my arm around her.

I had forgotten that she was different than myself. Her color was the only difference. What lay beneath her skin was a beautiful girl that was just "my friend."

How many times have we been afraid of a person, because they just didn't "look right?" How many times have we passed by someone that could have used our help? How many times have our eyes failed us?

How many opportunities for friendship and understanding have we missed because we judged with our eyes?

My granddaughter is now 12. She is still my best friend, but now knows I am much older. She teases me about it a lot. When I visit her, I always lie down with her in the dark of the night. She cannot see, and that is when we have long talks. She tells me everything about her world.

You know, in the dark, she can now see that I am just… 12.

 

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a weekly columnist for a Georgia newspaper. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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