Friday, March 21, 2014

St Lucy, Thank You for the Insight!

Whenever I paint St. Lucy I take extra care to be sure her eyes are especially beautiful .  She is the Patron Saint for the blind and those with eye problems.  She stands for insight, lucidity, great vision and the ability to see the underlying truth in all things.  The statue of St. Lucy shows her holding a palm frond in one hand, which is the symbol of good over evil and in the other hand, a dish in which 2 eyeballs sit.  Lucy's life story teaches us to stand strong for what we believe, no matter how hard the situation is and even in our darkest moments, stay focused on what's important.   

When my mother was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration resulting in gradual loss of her vision, I prayed to St. Lucy every night to let her eyesight and life spend their last days in a happy marriage.  Please let her live as long as her sight will allow her vision to be of value and not confusion.  At 98 her loss of vision began to create the confusion that is easy to label dementia.  Blurred vision blurred the sharpness of her mind as well, it seemed. 

It hurts me when I think of how the gradual loss of my mother's eyesight began a withdrawal from her surroundings.  I became insane with caregivers who didn't put her glasses on when she woke up in the morning.  The excuse was the same...."She doesn't know what is going on anyway, so why bother."  Is it possible that she is lucid of mind and the loss of her eye sight created a confusion that the lazy call dementia?

St. Lucy Statue made by Chris Hart Studio
Many afternoons were spent talking with my mother, asking questions and listening to her answers.  Why yes...she couldn't always remember words to describe what she saw out the window but I filled in for her without a hint of criticism.  I encouraged her gibberish and watched as it sorted itself out the more we talked and the more she gained confidence.  I thought how hard it must be to have people who expect you to make sense every time you spoke and how the drought of conversation only makes you thirstier for words until finally you choke.  We had many enjoyable conversations that only the two of us understood.

We are in a society that depends on how quickly we return a text, not the sight of the morning sun coming over the mountains and the sound of the goldfinches chattering on the thistle sock. St. Lucy reminds us to see what's important.  My mother's days were spent sitting on the deck in the sunshine, watching the birds at the feeder, talking with loved ones, enjoying the world around her.  As her eyesight failed, her vision became more acute.    

St. Lucy's story is that she had very beautiful eyes and a General in the army wanted to marry her because of her beauty but because he was not a Christian she refused.  The General sent his army to convince her but they had no success for she stood up for what she believed in.  From here the story goes one of  two ways.  Her eyes were gouged out by the army as part of her punishment or the version I prefer, she plucked out her own eyes to make herself undesirable to the General.  In either case, she could still see.  Her sight was restored, hence she holds the tray with the extra pair of eyeballs.

So like St. Lucy we have two pairs of eyes.  One pair makes our daily tasks easier and faster.  We can tie shoes and button shirts, comb our hair and eat with a fork more easily because of our sight.  The other pair reveals the underlying truths, insights to greater meaning and visions for the future.  St. Lucy teaches us to know our truths, stand up for them no matter how hard and to stay focused on the deeper meaning.

Real Eyes

Thank you St. Lucy.      


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