The blind spot


Everything we see is really just light focused onto the back side of your eye. Essentially your retina is like a tiny little movie screen for all of our images to play out on. It is covered with over 100 million photoreceptors to help give your own personal movies color and shape. This is also a good place to mention that the images are all upside down. Or maybe we are the ones upside down? Either way, these images get flipped and sent to our brain via the optic nerve.

Every time I read about light, the eye, optical illusions, and how we see things I am amazed. There is an article on NPR about light and how we see and that seeing is not merely the reception of signals but that it is really more like dancing (go read it...and have your mind blown...or at least something to chew on for a while
http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/01/12/261230681/seeing-the-world-is-like-dancing-with-it) Or if you are a Vsauce fan, watch the one on color and spend the rest of your day wondering if your red is the same as my red. My students don't always share my enthusiasm. Apparenlty their twitter feed is way more fascinating than my lesson plans. Which is crazy because I don't even tweet.

Last week we were studying lenses and the application of optics. There was a bucket of cow eyes in the store room that no one was using so I cut one up for each of my physics classes so I could show them the lens inside.  And how it wasn't that different from the glass ones laying around on lab tables at the back of the room.  Of course my class was disgusted, completely awake and paying attention for a change while I sliced and diced on my desk under the document camera trying not to get eye juice all over the papers I still needed to grade. Most students did not want a closer look, a few pretended to throw up....but a handful each period came up and wanted to see for themselves. One student pointed out that it looked like it had an iphone charger coming out of the back of it. And he was kind of right. After I'd cut away the fat and tissue, the optic nerve did not look that different from the white cord charging my ipad in the nearest outlet.

Our eyes and light and everything about them is crazy ridiculous. My eyes are getting worse with age. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the amount of reading I do and how incredibly lazy I am. Too lazy to get out of bed or off the couch and turn on the lights. Even if I need glasses these days, my eyes still do the amazing job of turning waves into electrical impulses. I might be near sighted and have a bit of an astigmatism, but even if your eyes are 20/20---as amazing as they are---they are still faulty.

Your retina, that tiny little movie screen in the back of your eye where the images get focused, has a decent size hole right in the middle of it. Almost exactly the same size as an iphone charger cord. There are no photoreceptors where your optic nerve is connected to your eyeball.

In other words -- we all have a blind spot.
Actually, we all have two.
One in each eye.

My students still didn't really get this so I had them draw a circle and an x on the back of their notes. Cover one eye and focus on the circle. Then I told them to slowly pull the paper back until the X disappears. And when the paper gets about 10 or so cm from their face you can hear them discover this for themselves. (google blind spot test and try it for your self). At this point, without fail, someone in each class asks why they don't see holes in what they are reading or seeing all the time. And I remind them that unless they are a pirate or have been in an unfortunate accident that they have two eyes.  That are eyes are relatively symmetric and that one eye's field of vision will compensate for the loss of vision in the other.

Like good friends, they cover for each other.

This morning I was listening to a podcast on my run. And I might be a science geek from 9-5, but on my own time I rarely listen to or read about that stuff. It is Lent so I was listening to an interview of a pastor that I adore. She is covered with tattoos and has a potty mouth and does crazy things like reads litergy, puts a chocolate fountain in the baptismal fount, and talks about brokeness and feeding the poor in words that make me feel a little bit less alone. (Nadia Bolz-Weber in case you were wondering and you should be). This was an interview so there were only snippets and stories but at one point the interviewer asked her about a sermon she had recently done entitled "Loving Our Enemies Even If We Don't Mean It". She responded with how "meaning it is overrated". If we all waited to mean it....it would be a Long. While. And most of us would never get anywhere. She then went on about a phrase that I've never bought....One a pastor at my church did a sermon on something similar last Lenton season...that I particularly liked.
"That God will never give you more than you can bear."
Saying this was also crap, not biblical, not true and particularly not helpful in the midst of someone else's struggle.
Because of course He will. That is kind of the whole point.
If we could bear it we wouldnt need him or each other or grace. It is all more than we can bear. And that maybe if we were going to insist on using that phrase we should at least re-word it to say "God won't give you more than community can bear."

I kept running, but my heart was really listening now.

She explained that at her church that they read the apostles creed and that there is not likely anyone in the room that actually believes every single line of the creed.
Again, that meaning it ALL is overrated. That by saying it in a room full of people --someone in the room probably believes each part of it. Not individually, but collectively.
So in a roomful of people....well, they are covered right?
That we have tried too hard to individualize everything. To believe everything. To be everything. To bear everything.  And that if we try to do it all. Or believe it all. Or be it all that not only will we fail, but that we are missing the beauty of community.

And as I ran I thought about our eyes.
My own blind spots.
The literal iphone charger sized ones. And the still very real ones that have a lot more to do with my heart than my eyes.
My doubts.
The things I attempt to bear and carry and believe.
And that I am thankful that they were never meant to be carried or seen alone.
We are meant for community.
Even our own eyes need each other, is it so suprising that our hearts do as well??


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