A Parable of Hope

Derek Christensen
Sunday, 30 November 2008

I am colour blind.  Apparently 8% of the male population is colour blind too.  Colour blindness is not one of the big disabilities, like blindness, deafness or the like.  Yet it contains its own irritations.  It is hard wondering if we have dressed in the right colour combinations, forgotten the advice on what goes with what with nobody to ask.  It is no fun having to ask a shop assistant in a clothing store for help, confessing we are colour blind and occasionally getting a suppressed smirk from a pimpled youth or some odd advice to ‘test’ us.  Nor is it any fun when often the first reaction of people when we say we are colour blind is for them to ask, “So what does this colour look like to you?”  And my heart sinks every time I go to a conference and am given a coloured name tag which is the code for the breakout groups we need to go to.

Maybe the hardest thing is to know others see colours differently, more fully, more accurately, knowing there is a part of God’s world forever closed and forever a mystery.

A short time ago, I was driving home to Auckland from Putaruru after attending the funeral of a grand old matriarch of our first pastorate.  As I was driving just north of Tirau, on a stretch of road I always remember for the record multiple fatality while we lived there, my cellphone rang and foolishly I answered it to hear the voice of one of my daughters.  She started straight in.  “Dad, Caleb’s colour blindness is cured!”   Caleb is one of our two grandsons, both colour blind, probably something to do I guess with my genetic contribution.  She told me how and promised to tell me more later.  Somehow I kept the car steady and on the road as I tried to take in what she had just said.

About a week later it was my birthday and we held a family dinner.  The daughter who rang me was there and also Caleb.  As I sat opening a couple of presents, Caleb came up to me and shyly handed to me a glasses case, his new glasses, his colour blindness glasses!

“Try these Grandad” he said, so I did, carefully easing frames designed for an eight year old on to my ancient head.

We went outside onto the deck, a deck smothered in bougainvillea, above a garden lush at the peak of its spring flowering.  The bougainvillea was red, real red, red as I knew existed but had never seen.  I went downstairs and walked around the garden, a garden that had never been as bright and as sharp and as beautiful as it was that day, under a sky of a depth of blue I had never seen.

 “Is this the real world? I wondered, the world I was seeing for the first time in exactly 67 years?

For twenty minutes I wandered and wondered.  I looked at colours and then looked over the top of the glasses in ‘normal’ mode.  The difference was huge, as though everything before was faded and washed out.  I still remember the intensity of some of the flowers, their colour imprinting images on my brain that nothing will take away.

I had to give the glasses back of course but all night as I lay awake, those colours kept coming back, the secret world most know and take for granted but a world I had never known, reality so close to me and yet permanently inaccessible.  For a few minutes I had seen the world as it really is.

I can see it permanently if I want.  I simply need to drive out to an optometry firm in Kumeu, undergo colour testing to determine the exact nature of my deficiency, then hand over a large cheque and wait for the glasses to be assembled.

This Christmas season, this experience has become for me a symbol of hope.  What is hope?  Hope is a glimpse and a promise.  I have caught a glimpse and have the promise of fulfilment, the hope of seeing the real world.

Jesus came and gave us a glimpse. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”  And He gave a promise.  “I have come that you might have life and might have it to the fullest measure.”

Hope has come alive for me as never before.