(Note: I wrote this in January of 2018. Since we have now entered 2020 – the year of “perfect vision” – I thought it was good to re-visit. My friend and amazing poet Devon Spier and I co-wrote the poem/meditation at the end.)
The Back Story
At first, I thought my clouded vision meant that I needed new glasses. Or maybe my eyesight was blurred because of a recent eye infection. It was difficult to drive at night. As early as I can remember I was one of those kids who went to bed with a book under the covers with a flashlight. So when I began to find it tough to read and also to write (such as this) I was worried.
Isn’t that how it goes? Slowly, bit by bit, we may not notice how basics like seeing become impaired. We excuse it. Or ignore it. Until we can’t.
At that point, my (wonderful) ophthalmologist Dr. Daniel Kline in Irvine examined my eyes and told me it was clear as day (to him) that I had cataracts in both eyes.
And they could be fixed (“wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!”)
As I prepared for my surgery, I began to think about vision in all ways.
What is right in front of me that I’m not recognizing?
Where have I put veils on my own eyes?
It’s an important question because when we really open our eyes to the reality before us, we might have to act. If we don’t want to take the necessary action, we may not want to claim what we see. Hence, we put our blinders on.
For example, if you truly saw our own power:
- what would you feel compelled to do?
- Would you feel encouraged to take risks?
- Or is it more comfortable to not see who you truly are meant to be, so you keep your vision clouded?
Or, if you opened our eyes and recognized that you’ve been in a toxic relationship, wouldn’t you then want to take steps to extricate yourself? It’s not so easy.
Sometimes when the screen lifts, you can never again “not see what you see.” But other times, you decide to put the shades back down. (In 2019, I wrote a sermon for the High Holy Days called ‘Holding Both Truth & Joy – it was about seeing the truth in front of us, and being brave enough to say it outloud.)
I decided to declare 2018 the Year of New Vision. It’s my kavannah/intention to explore the many dimensions of clear sight – the positive and negative. I intend to search out texts, poetry, and music about Seeing Clearly throughout the year and weave them into my work. (update: For 2019, here are my favorite poets, musicians and artists.)
The night before my cataract surgery, my friend Devon Spier, who is a rabbinic student (also a poet and writer and beautiful soul) and I spontaneously wrote a poem/meditation together called New Vision.
It was like a dance, an unexpected delight to co-create on the eve of getting “new sight.”
New Vision: A Meditation for the New Year
by Devon Spier and Jill Zimmerman
What does it mean to “see clearly?”
To see with head and heart.
To see what’s underneath.
To gaze up at a new horizon.
To see what would be healing.
To see new possibilities.
And to see what we must do and not do.
To see the dead ends.
To see the world as it could be.
And to see the world as it is.
But always to open our eyes and with the strength of our sight, see our self and every day anew.
To see the pathway even though we step with uncertainty.
To see the deep power each of us holds and trusting the expanse of the universe to hold us just as we are.
Wishing you a year of health and gratitude for what you already have –
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
January 2018; updated 2020
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