The looking glass iiii
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5 ESV
What really does not define me is the fact that I am going blind or that I carry a big stick.
Some days it seems my lack of vision creeps into every aspect and I am more aware than ever that the eyes are failing me. Other days, I am able to do all that I physically want to, like garden, clean, eat, go for a walk and crochet. Then there are those days. Ones where the clouds creep in. Just like the distant thunder of a rain storm that rolls ever closer, the peripheral world becomes darker and darker until for some very odd reason there is a book shelf in front of me instead of an open doorway. Like for instance this morning, when the rainy seven a.m. lighting did not allow me enough light to see my dear baby granddaughter’s wide open-eyed greeting.
About ten years ago, my vision became a markedly difficult issue as I attempted to care for my family and my pets. We began coming up with pathway lighting, rope lights and other deck lighting to help me out at night. I had a number of attempts to train a helper dog for myself.
our little collie back then was no help at finding the newborn lambs in the darkest corners of the barn The shepherd lifestyle was ended with it’s dangerous night life. I gave up teaching squirrels, I mean children- they move too quickly. The choir pianist in me retired to memory lane. So many goodbyes.
I knew that I needed some independence since there weren’t many people other than immediate family who could really guide me, so I got my first walking stick. Or mobility cane.
A mobility cane is not the same as a walking cane. It is not meant for heavy weight bearing. Instead it is more like a really long finger that acts like a braile reader for the path ahead. I have watched many videos of people navigating busy crowded sidewalks. Their ability to walk in New York City amazes me. I’m just trying not to face plant from a curb. The signs others see as helpful on the sidewalk edges have often found the center of my face. Rather than giving me any warning, they are not friends of mine!
While the white cane affords me some independence at times using my husband or daughter to lead me around like a little child is easier. However there are a few stories that the cane has etched into my memory along with a few times it should really have been at my assistance that turned out funny. Here goes.
Once I began using the white cane at church to assist in my go-betweens. Often there was a young child asking me, “What’s that?” When the child persists in a rude or beyond curious fashion (skeptical and disbelieving that i am blind) I respond with “it’s a big stick so that if you try to run away I can trip you.” If there is still focus on the stick instead of our relationship or face to face contact, I tell them it’s a weapon like the lightsaber! Children without proper respect can be quite frustrating. Dealing with the constant badgering was one of the reasons I quit teaching kids club.
In all actually It really has nearly tripped children. Especially in the mall when they are running away from parents. Of course I feel bad, but most of the time I was thanked for slowing the toddler down. One time at the mall I was using one of my lightweight expanding mobility canes and tripped my own companion. It was my younger daughter and needless to say, the stick broke. From then on I only use “indestructible” white canes.
So for the story of not having the aide. My little four year niece and I were walking behind her family through the mall. When walking with a group it is common for those in more of a hurried path to their end, to cross the path right in front of me. After this happened on several occasion without my niece and I slowing for the “running retriever” my brother just grabbed my loose hand and kept us on target. People at the mall can be really rude when it comes to separating larger group walkers. Oh, well, there are a lot more people with tunneled vision than you might think.
Shopping and holding a walking cane is not easy. I have become so accustomed to being “lost” in the shopping environment that for the most part I just stand still like an old fashioned mannequin that is out of place. If anyone runs into me, it’s because they didn’t see me. I am slower than a sloth in the department stores.
On occasion I get brave or really have to go to the bathroom. So I pull out the cane and march away from my person. The day that I named my mobility cane Moses is very memorable to me. We were at Wally-world and I needed to return to the auto section where Gavin was getting some oil or air filter for the vehicle. On the way back to him, I noticed how the people just seemed to slide off to the side as I tapped my way back to that area of the store. It seemed as if the stick were parting the water, or the Red Sea had congealed right up. I tried to smile at some but they seemed to gather that I smirked to myself and could not see them. They just looked away. I felt like Moses had parted the waters and the path was cleared to walk on dry ground. There were no stumbling blocks. No person stood before me in my way. They all moved out of my path.
I began to think about the phenomenon of the Red Sea. And other happenings like that. Then I remembered some of my nightmares. Like falling over logs, chairs, stones, or other blockages and music stands or instrument cases scattered all about the floor and there is no way I can cross the gym floor with all those moving basketball players. I duck my head and wince and flinch but still the balls hit me in the face and head constantly. What a challenge. Sometimes this dream comes and I actually cry out loud.
Exodus is one of my favorite Old Testament books. The first few chapters of Moses’ story are so compelling to me. Listening to them over and over does not bother me at all. It’s kind of like watching a favorite video for me. One time I heard a sermon on Exodus 4:2 “What is that in your hand?” (This was before cell phones were a fixture.) The point of the sermon is that God uses us right where we are at and with what we have at hand. Whatever you find most frequently in your hand is what God wants to use for His purposes and His glory.
So while I know that Moses had a personal aid named Joshua; Exodus 24:13 tells about Moses’ return trip to the mountain for a second set of tablets for the Lord God to write on. This time he took his young helper with him. So while I may have it backwards and should call my aid Joshua, we have far to many of them in our family already. Then I began thinking of Joshua and his journey after Moses left. While Moses was no longer with him to help in the journey to the promised land, God was. He promised never to leave Joshua or forsake him.
There are times I forget my mobility cane. There are times I wish I had brought it with. There are also times it becomes a burden and I can’t carry all those tings. I will always need an aide. I can no longer go anywhere by myself, unless I walk. Living in the country has brought me to a very vulnerable and often lonely place. While people may forsake me, my guide dog might trip me or break my nose, the Lord is always near.
That might not be very consoling when I turn around to walk out of my library and run into the bookshelf instead of the doorway. But using my mobility cane in my own home is not something I want to do. If the traffic in our house picks up too much, like during the supper hour, I prefer to get planted. It’s just easier than running into the cross traffic and causing accidents like spills and burns.
So Moses and I are becoming quite the companions. I have used this aide mostly in congregational settings. Using it on hikes and park walks is also advantageous to the limbs and face. While I am waiting for Honey to shape up and start helping more, I will continue to use Moses. And don’t judge me for making Moses white instead or black or some other skin tone. Most seeing guide mobility canes are white. Okay I do have a yellow one, but i have not used it much. It’s usually just the handles that become a fashion statement! All I care is that it tells me where the step is so that i don’t fall up or down.
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.””
Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV