PJ wasn’t born blind. At just two years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Shortly after the chemo treatments began, a fungal infection developed in PJ’s eyes which eventually robbed him of the ability to see.
We met PJ and his family nearly a year later after our son Andrew was diagnosed with the same deadly disease. On any given day at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, you could find PJ sitting up in his bed with mom and dad by his side. To pass the long tedious hours, PJ often watched a movie from the comfort of his hospital bed. Without fail, the movie PJ chose to watch was Toy Story 3. Of course, PJ couldn’t actually watch the movie, he would just listen to it. He would listen to the sounds of that film over and over again as if there were no other movies to “watch.” When his parents told me why he specifically wanted Toy Story 3 in the DVD Player, their explanation broke my heart.
Before PJ lost his eyesight, his favorite movie had been Toy Story 3. The images and colors of that movie captivated his little mind. Now that he could no longer see with his eyes, Toy Story 3 was the only movie he could picture with his mind. Though his vision was gone, he retained the memory of the vivid colors and images that had once brought joy before the darkness set in.
The famous Christian storyteller JRR Tolkien wrote:
“We all long for Eden. We are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted. Its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”
Long before sin corrupted this world, there was perfect joy in Eden’s garden. There was vivid color and unspoiled pleasures to be experienced with God and his creation in perfect harmony. But like a cancer from within, sin stole away the color and the darkness set in. Yet God has seen to it that our hearts would retain a distant memory of the joy He promised to his children at Eden. The lights have gone out yet we retain a memory of the light of life; the light for which our souls groan.
Tolkien’s best friend, CS Lewis, called it the inconsolable secret which is the “signature of each soul. The incommunicable and unappeasable want. The thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds.”
My prayer for PJ is that someday he will regain his vision through the miracle of modern medicine. If that day does come, I wonder if at the very moment PJ perceives the vivid colors again, will it simply feel like he recaptured the distant memory of a joy he once experienced but can’t recall?
For believers in Christ, we are looking forward to a day not unlike that.
In his classic work, The Weight of Glory, Lewis says it like this:
“Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off. To be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy. The truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”
We will look on the One who revived our souls and renewed the world to finally say, “Here at last is the thing I was made for.” The groaning of our souls will be satisfied in the light of the face of the One who loved us.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (ESV)