Friday, September 12, 2008

Ten Days

A lot of people, dozens of them, possibly hundreds, have said things to me that begin with the phrase "I can't imagine...". In case you are wondering, that is not a phrase of comfort. It is not reassuring to know that others cannot put themselves in your shoes. And I do not say this with rancor. It's just a useful piece of information. To tell the truth, I can't imagine it either.

**********************

There was a movie, some time back. It came to mind when I was on the retreat that wasn't, before the horror of the last ten days. I don't remember why it found its way into my prayer, but it did.

The movie is about a young man born blind who is given the opportunity to see, thanks to a radical new treatment or surgery. In the end, his vision fades and and he is left blind once again, with the added burden of knowing what he has lost. If I recall correctly, it is in that final circumstance that the main point if the movie is found: that deprivation is all the more terrible to the extent that we know and understand what it is that we are missing.

What I suddenly remembered about the movie last week, an out-of-the-blue memory of a movie I haven't thought about since I saw it -- what? 25 years ago? -- is what happens to the young man when he is first able to see:

Jagged and seemingly unrelated fragments of light, of color, of shape, of dimension. He thinks that he is going insane. Having never seen anything at all before, he has no capacity for the organization of visual stimulii. He does not know what a tree, or a street block, or a person, looks like. He does not know what it means for something to "look like." Bombarded by all that sighted persons unconsciously filter and coalesce into wholes that make sense, he is almost overcome by confusion and anguish.

That's what this exerience is like.

Trying to find a way to absorb the unexpected, the unthinkable, the unknowable.

Imagine.




22 comments:

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Your words are so raw...and filled with such realness. {{{{{GG and family}}}}}

Quotidian Grace said...

Imagining with you and praying for you and your family.

(((GG)))

Althea N. Agape said...

trying to imagine, but definitely praying

Carol said...

Even in this most incomprehensible situation, your words and thoughts are still able to convery it with a clarity that makes it possible for us to imagine just a bit. {{{{{{GG}}}}}}}

Ruth said...

You are eloquent in your grief. I hope you continue to blog, or journal, or whatever, your way through this. I don't know that I can imagine -- being as I have a 21 year old who I have had fears about -- my mind runs into a wall -- but I do know that each and every day I pray for you, and the tears fall.

Joan Calvin said...

I am so sorry. Thank you for telling me. I can only imagine how awful it is. I sit here crying imagining.

Nan said...

Unless one has fallen into the chasm into this dark reality, no one can imagine. All we truly can do, as we watch you from above, is pray for you. And we are, constantly. (((GG)))

LawAndGospel said...

You are so right about "imagining." Your words recalled for me these same feelings two years ago in my family's sudden loss. Willing to walk with you, beside you in my shoes, and praying fiercely for you all.

Kathryn J said...

It is so hard to know how to help when someone you care about is in pain. If we could imagine how it feels, perhaps we could figure out how to help. I think the statement comes from the knowledge that you can imagine but you can't possibly understand.

I'm still praying for you and with you and trying to imagine.

karen (karensull12@aol.com) said...

I'm so sorry for your devastating loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Karen

bean said...

i think it's almost always true that until you have gone through a tragedy yourself, you can't imagine what it is like for the other person...and each circumstance is so specific and at the same time so basically human in our experience. having gone through an illness, i only now am having insight - more 'outsight' where i see and understand other people's struggles as they cope with illness and loss.

i continue to hold you and all your family in my deepest thoughts and heart. thank you for sharing such eloquent thoughts.

bean

Theresa Williams said...

Your honesty is complete and devastating. Your appeal has been duly noted and fully absorbed. Thank you for your courage in saying this. I have been with you, Robin, in ways you cannot know, ways I'm not able to talk about in a public forum. To say I was stunned by your news is an understatement. I felt it in my whole body and soul. My problem, if you can call it a problem, was that I could imagine all too well, for I have had a sense of foreboding for some time...about...

Theresa Williams said...

PS: I have shared your loss with my husband, and he wants me to tell you he, too, is sorry for your loss, and that we know what it is like to mourn and have your life fall into shades of black.

Gannet Girl said...

Theresa, I can't find your email. Email me at GG if you want.

Cynthia said...

Wrapping you in my love. Wish I could offer tangible presence.

Michelle said...

I don't need to imagine either, having walked these hallways.

Prayers, and prayers arise...

Presbyterian Gal said...

((((((GG))))))

more cows than people said...

for teaching in your grief, thank you.

i'm praying for you all constantly.

Lisa :-] said...

Amazing analogy, Robin.

DogBlogger said...

((((GG))))

Kathryn said...

I guess the "I cannot imagine" is intended as the antidote to the equally unhelpful
"I know how you feel"
We don't...Even those of us who carry losses of our own don't know how the weight of yours feels, how you are with it all.
But we are here, and we hurt for you and are praying for all of your family day by day

Katherine E. said...

Been away from blogging for a while, GG. ... I'm so deeply sorry... I know that movie and the book from which it came. Your use of it here is more than powerful.

Holding you in prayer...
Katherine