My sense of sight is not the best. I wear glasses, but lately I have to take off the glasses for reading and computer work, which means that everything further away is a bit blurry. I tend to forget where I've left them, walk around without seeing clearly, then scurry to find them when I have to drive anywhere.
But when I go walking, I wear the glasses. Now it is spring in the Midwest, the kind of spring that man has been writing songs and poems about since forever, the kind of spring that might make even a hardboiled atheist and naturalist wonder if just perhaps this world is more than bouncing atoms in a vacuum.
As it happens, my walks tend to be about an hour before sunset, and for a good deal of the time, I'm walking east. The sun catches the boles of the trees and the green of the young leaves. (Not so young anymore. Spreading a bit now. You can hear them say, like a seven-year-old, "Now I'm big!")
And I can see. No sun in the eyes. The sun shining on everything, and everything clear, standing out in sharp relief. It's an amazing thing, the way it strikes you. The sheer gift of clear physical sight. On those evening spring walks, away from the sun, all the etching of all the bark on all the tree trunks seems clearer than most things ever are, much clearer than the hand in front of my face right now. Everything is itself and seems to be trying to tell me what it is.
"Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known."
The writers of holy writ and the theologians and poets from St. Thomas Aquinas to the blind Fanny Crosby were wise to tell us of heaven in terms of sight. How did Fanny know, though? Blinded at six weeks of age, she never walked east in the evening and watched the sun on the trees. But she knows now how right she was.
And I shall see him face to face
And tell the story, saved by grace.