I sat at my computer, my fingers fluttering aimlessly above the keys, with my brain frozen and devoid of creativity. I must write a column – now.
The doorbell rang. I didn’t need an interruption. Stomping to the door, I opened it, and stepped aside as a big guy pushed past. He moved to my big green chair, and sat down heavily with a groan. The groan came from the chair, not the visitor.
Now, I groaned. “Bert, what a surprise. I didn’t know you had returned to Ontario.”
“Back for a visit,” he said, “How about putting on a cuppa. Then tell me how you’re doing.”
I headed for the kitchen, thrilled to see Bert, but annoyed that I couldn’t get a column written. Only one thing worse might happen when I had only a couple of hours left until my deadline and every lobe of my brain experiencing a drought. The worst possible thing? My friend Gord might call from Hong Kong to share his latest escapade; he could talk for an hour at any time of the day or night.
Bert called to me in the kitchen, “I’m sorry about Anna’s memory problems. I read your column in last week’s Advertiser.”
I made the tea, returned to the living room, and picked up a copy of last week’s paper from the rocker so I could sit down. As I did so, I lifted it near my eyes to see what I had written about last week. Ah, yes, Anna’s memory problems and her solid faith.
A black frown slid across Bert’s face, “What’s wrong with your eyes? When do you plan to get cataract surgery?”
“I’ve had that done to both eyes,” I said. “They call this problem preretinal membrane.”
Bert’s furrowed brow and pursed lips made me realize he really cared. I forgot about my desperate need to get a column written and began to talk about myself. Bert does that to people.
“Our body wears out as we grow older,” I said, “At age 15 I needed glasses, at 42 bifocals. Then in my 70s I developed cataracts, and now the left eye has started to fade. If I make it to my 80s, I’ll need laser surgery.”
Bert leaned forward and put his teacup on the side table. “You’ll always have sight. God gives us humans another kind of eye – the eye of the soul – the ability to look within people, to peer directly into them. I’m sure you have that gift, so you’ll never become completely blind. Maybe one day you can forget about reading words on a page and spend time reading your fellow man.” Never before had I heard Bert wax so eloquently. Neither could I recall him mentioning God in a way that suggested he actually believed in Him. I’d have to switch the conversation from me to Bert to find out what had happened in his life since we last met. But at that point he stood up.
“I’ve got to go,” he said. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”
In the vacuum of his absence, I pondered his “eye of the soul.” I’d have to spend more time thinking about other people, but now back to my column. However, the phone rang.
“Well hello, Gord,” I said. “How are things in Hong Kong?”