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Is Justice Really Blind? Or Can Vision be Restored

Matthew 6: 25-26 . Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns— and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

As a deacon, or in a broader sense as we all do diaconal work, we lean into acts of mercy, compassion and care for others. In those acts we grow and care for ourselves too, in relationship with community, creation and guidance and love from God the creator. 

Sometimes this action is grand and highly visible, but most often it is not. It can be a conversation, sharing food with another, holding space for joys and sorrows. I would say this is also justice work in our communities; towards reconciliation and kin-dom renewal. 

I have been blessed to hold that space with him and receive his wisdom and listen. 

Lately, God has called me to care for my senior neighbour, Edgar, in a more intensive way. I don’t want this story to sound like self-aggrandisement, I tell it because it is true and hope it brings blessing and encouragement to others. 

Edgar is in his eighties and suffered from cataracts that had completely blocked the vision in one eye. As our relationship has grown in the past few years, he asked me if I would help him with the surgery. I said of course I would, not completely knowing that it would entail a month of eye drops, four times a day. Edgar lives alone, does not have close family, no spouse or children, so I committed to this care with him. 

Edgar lamented not taking care of the problem sooner, wishing he would have done it in years past… but quietly expressed feelings of insecurity and being worried that he did not have someone around to care for him back then. It was all the thanks, and glory given to God, that I needed to hear; making the little bit of extra time spent with him all worth it. 

Now, with vision returned to his eye, he expresses the joy at being able to read, to see the birds outside his window again and the ability to be restored back to better health. In the past few months, I have heard many stories of his history, his relationships and his challenges. I have been blessed to hold that space with him and receive his wisdom and listen. 

I don’t think justice is blind after all, I just think sometimes we fail to see it lived out.

And wow! The stories he shares of childhood, hardship, change and growth! He was born in a very complicated time and place in history, that is now stirring up deep emotions again with the invasion of Ukraine by Putin led Russia. Born in 1935, in an area that is now considered Ukraine, that was controlled at that time by the Soviet Union. His family is of German descent and had settled there, through complicated circumstances of lineage, after WWI. As a young boy, having to live through WWII between the ages of 4 and 10, he considers himself German but was moved around by different governments, armies and conflicts of disputed land. They were pulled out of Soviet Union Ukraine by the German government, lived in Germany for a time, then moved to Poland as occupying Germans when WWII escalated. When Germany lost at the end of WWII his family moved back to Germany.

Before coming to Canada in his twenties he experienced much hunger, poverty and violence; with soldiers even coming on to the family farm to steal livestock for meat. In one such incident, he witnessed an intoxicated soldier steal, shoot and cook one of their pigs while the family had to stand by and watch him eat it. 

I don’t think justice is blind after all, I just think sometimes we fail to see it lived out. We long for it in big and small ways and we pray for peace in situations that need restored; be it personal health or war. Like the blind bird in my backyard, the senior needing cataract surgery or a family surviving war, all are precious to God and live under promises of love and care. We have many internal and external reasons to worry but as the verses in Matthew 6 state, we also have Creator’s promises to feed, nurture and sustain us.   

I want to honor Edgar in a small way, by sharing his story with you and in the following poem I wrote, one night after a visit to give eye drops:

Boy of the Black Sea: Edgar’s Poem

I don’t know how I know about the Blue Danube;
I was only six years old.
We lived simple lives, drawing water from a well
Surviving the cold winter storms with the animals.
To the adults it was 1941, for me it was… One day…
Men in uniforms came and ordered a count. 
In two rotations of my world, we were to write it all down
Numbering men, beast and land
Each to be separated… each to be resourced.
I don’t know how I know about leaving my home
Loaded up in the dark of night,
On a bus, bound for a boat… to be slid out on the water.
I don’t know how I know about 
Settling someone else’s land.
About being a pawn 
Moving in advance of an evil King.
I… now… know…
About what I did not know, 
A boy behind the Iron Curtain.
Tossed this way and that,
By the waves of the river
On the Blue Danube.

Picture of blind chickadee provided by the author.

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