Jasmine Cheng’s Eye Of The Storm In My Eye portrays eyes as mysterious planets. As we gaze upon images of eyes suffering under certain medical conditions, we see clouds hovering above a planetary surface, we see surface storms erupting and moving, we see starry galaxies, landscapes, and rivers, we see the black hole of the pupil. We witness the human eye in an entirely new way; we witness illness as manifesting a beauty of its own.
Late last summer I had cataract surgery on both eyes. What I saw before surgery: a crazy, lit-up, jagged ferris wheel, pulsating with fierce dragon energy; a golden retriever coming toward me down the block, its hair waving in the breeze, tail held aloft, happy to be on a walk…that, as we approached each other, became a Somali woman in a beautiful gold hijab; four bicyclists along the side of the road, shimmering and racing…that, as I drew alongside in my cautious myopic driving, became a solitary bicyclist pedaling along; constellations of headlights, stoplights, streetlights, arranged in diamond shapes, each with its own sparkle and movement–I could become giddy watching them, seeing how the world is just pulsating with light, and how no one else realizes this. What I saw during the surgery: swirling vibrant colors, a living breathing psychedelic painting; currents and eddies of dancing hues of luminosity; undulating painted creatures, unable to be stilled, all in motion. What I see now: the full moon, sharp and clear in the sky; the hawk, there at the top of the tallest tree, head swiveling; rich color, sharp detail, perspective, depth.
We are eye-witnesses in our capacity to behold both outer and inner landscapes. What we contemplate intentionally becomes part of our inner landscape. The mudflats of my childhood became my body–self as well as the landscape of my soul. Eyes, even in illness, become planets, gifts from God in their beauty, their elegance, their flaws and imperfections.
The eye is connected to the heart. How we gaze, what we choose to take in, becomes our meditation and thus our medicine.
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
(from Monet Refuses the Operation, by Lisel Mueller)
Patricia Brenneman is a spiritual director, offering spiritual guidance in the Jungian tradition. She specializes in grief and loss, and facilitates groups that make use of sandplay as a contemplative, expressive practice to explore grief as sacred territory. She is a graduate of a two-year program at the Chicago Jung Institute, and is currently in her third year of the Christine Center's Spiritual Deepening for Global Transformation program. Patricia is a two-time cancer survivor, at ages 27 and 52, and lives in Minneapolis. She has used writing and collage over the years to explore body and illness, nature and landscape, dreams and meditation, approaching with reverence image as soul expression. Patricia can be reached through her website, www.patriciaspiritualdirection.com
©2018 Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine