The journey to light

The journey to light

From the moment I heard that the retreat organised in the parish was to be preached by a visually impaired priest, I knew that it would be a special one and would leave me and fragments of my inner soul changed forever. And sure it did.

Fr. Joseph, bearing the name of the stepfather of Jesus Christ, would father and shepherd the participants of the three-day retreat in revealing that even when life turns completely dark, as it had happened to Fr. Joseph, one can still transcend darkness and begin the journey from darkness to light.

Fr. Joseph was no superhuman being and did not take to the gradual blindness of his adult life easily. He was as devastated as anyone would be. He went into depression just as any normal man of his age would. In his humanness, he hoped against hope that his blindness could be reversed and left no alternative medicine from Ayurveda to homoeopathy untouched to find a cure for his condition.

Finally, when he realised that his fate was final and nothing could be done about it, he contemplated the very thing the man next door hit with a similar calamity would, which was, to end his life. Yet, here he was facing an audience of thronging people proclaiming that if there was a man more joyful than him today, he would love to meet him and shake hands with him.  

This 180-degree turn that Fr. Joseph was able to do, to let go of his misfortune and embrace life despite the perpetual darkness of his world, was no overnight journey. He turned to God; he prayed; he endured; he mustered strength; he rekindled hope for brighter days; he opened the inner eye of his soul that was perhaps lying shut; he began to see with his humanity; he unlocked all his other senses to the fullest and most of all, he let go of his acquired disability. Slowly and steadily, bit by bit, he fought self-pity, overcame despair and conquered the infirmity.

“I no longer think about my eyesight. I’m not aware of it unless you remind me,” he says even as he is busy preaching retreats, counselling many troubled souls and actively participating in spreading God’s message of joy to all.

Fr. Joseph’s journey of opening the inner eye of his soul upon losing sight is indeed an inspiration to the visually impaired. And for those blessed with sight, it is a reminder to simply open our eyes to the fullness of life. After all, “A blind man who sees is better than a seeing man who is blind.”