Snow Blind


                               By Phil Scovell




          In mid  November of 1964, my mother and  I walked out of the Iowa
     University hospital.   I was holding on  to my mother's arm  because I
     had just been told by my doctor  that I was blind and would never  see
     again.   My retinas were shredded into thousands of tiny fragments and
     after a  dozen  surgical procedures,  including  the laser  beam,  the
     latest invention for retinal surgery, I was told nothing more could be
     done.  "Is there any hope at all, doctor?" I heard my mother asking.

          "No," he said softly, "I'm afraid not."

          Now, as  we walked into the windy November  day, I could feel the
     warm sun on my face.  When we got to the parking  lot, I well remember
     the crunching of  the gravel beneath my feet as we  walked to the car.
     My mom placed my hand on the door  handle.  It was warm from the sun's
     rays.   When I heard the  click of the door  being unlocked, I punched
     the  button under the handle and climbed  into the passenger's side of
     the  car.  I was blind but didn't know  it yet.  "It would be," I told
     myself, "just like all the other times.  I'll go home and after a  few
     days, my sight will come back.  Oh, it won't be as good  as it was," I
     knew, "but it will come back.  It always came back.  always."

          Reaching Des Moines  a couple of hours later, we  stopped at some
     friend's home.   They were having church  friends over for supper.   I
     sat on  the couch and  listened to my  mom as  she cried and  told her
     friends what the doctor had said.   I was numb.  The words  I heard my
     mother speaking didn't seem to effect me; as if she were talking about
     someone I didn't know.   My sight would come back because it had every
     time after each operation.  It would this time too.

          Making one other  stop to see  mom's best friend,  we talked  for
     awhile and  then as we  left, the lady  gave me her  dog.  He  was the
     father  of Corkey, my fox terrier, who  had run away after we moved to
     Omaha and we never saw again.  I petted my new little dog as he lay on
     the seat next to me in his blanket  all the way through the dark night
     to our new home in Omaha, Nebraska.

          I hadn't gone to the school  for the blind yet.  I remembered  my
     mother talking to the doctor about putting me in a special school just
     for blind people but I wouldn't be doing anything like that because my
     sight would be coming back.  It always did.

          Ruth and I begged mom to let us go out into the  snow.  "But it's
     dark out," she protested.

          "We don't care," my little 7 year  old sister and I said; jumping
     up  and down.  "We want to go out  and play in the snow.  Besides, the
     street lights are on."

          "It's really cold out there," mom tried again.

          "So.  We don't mind."

          We were  so bundled  up went leaving  the house, we  could hardly
     walk.  It was cold, too, but soon we were sliding down  the short hill
     to the snowy sidewalk below and holding on to the hand rail, we walked
     up the  steps  to achieve  the  hilltop again.    Mom had  called  our
     neighbors and asked  them to  turn on  their porch light  so the  area
     where we were playing would be illuminated and she could easily see us
     from a window.

          It wasn't long  after my sister and I began sliding down the hill
     that  two other  little  girls  from our  new  neighborhood heard  our
     laughter and came to investigate.  They asked if they could slide down
     the hill  with us and  we said yes.   For over  an hour, we  each took
     turns sliding down  the steep hill.   Sometimes, due to the  deep snow
     and having  gotten turned away  sliding down the hillside,  I couldn't
     find the hand railing and would ask for help.  My little sister, Ruth,
     helped me find it several times and soon the two little girls, who had
     come to play, were helping me find the hand rail, too, thinking it was
     just part of the game, I'm sure.

          It was  getting late  and it  had gotten  much colder.   We  were
     covered with snow  and it was in  our boots, inside our  gloves, under
     our hats, and down our necks.  We were getting cold and tired.

          Sliding down the hill, I couldn't find the hand railing and asked
     where it was.  One of the  little girls took my gloved hand and guided
     it to the iron hand railing.  "Why do you keep asking us to help you?"
     she asked innocently.

          Suddenly,  I  was cold;  very  cold.   I  was wet  and  tired and
     exhausted.  I had only been home from the hospital for a few days.  My
     sight  wasn't slowly returning  as it normally  had after  each of the
     other surgeries.

          A  couple of days after coming home,  I asked my mom for the book
     she  had been reading to me as I lay  on my back in the hospital.  She
     gave it to me and  I went to my room.  Closing the door, I switched on
     a light and held the book in front of me.  I couldn't see it.  Holding
     it closer  to my eyes, standing as  close to the light  as possible, I
     could tell the  cover was red but I could see nothing else; absolutely
     nothing.  I knew my sight would return, though, because it always did.

          During my last stay in the hospital, I had been made to lay on my
     back for two full weeks.  They had placed rolls of sand bags on either
     side of my head, and they had covered both my eyes with thick patches.
     "Keep your eyes  closed, Philip," the doctor  said.  "Try not  to move
     and try to  stay as flat as  you can.  We  want your retinas to  be at
     rest as much as possible so whatever you do, don't move your head."

          "But I hate laying on my back," I protested.

          "I understand but it is necessary," he said gently."

          After the surgery, it was another two weeks of laying on my back,
     sand bags rolled up  on either side of my head to keep me from turning
     my head, and  patches on my eyes.   When the  patches came off, all  I
     could see was watery light.

          As  I stood at  the cold iron  hand railing, I  suddenly felt the
     cold of the night rushing in.  It felt as if it had even penetrated my
     heart.   Realization sparked to  life and  everything became  suddenly
     very still.   It  was like  the planet  slowed to  a stop  and a  huge
     spotlight  was focused  on me.   "Because  I'm blind,"  I blurted  too
     loudly, and  I burst into  uncontrollable sobbing.  My  little sister,
     Ruth, realized  why I was crying and took my arm.  As we both stumbled
     down the snow covered  sidewalk to our home, we sobbed.   Something in
     my thoughts seemed to say, "And I'll never see again."

          Crashing through the  front door, the warmth of  the house nearly
     knocking  us over,  we  cried even  louder.   "What's  wrong?   What's
     wrong?" our mother  said; hurrying over to  the front door to  help us
     in.  "did somebody get hurt?" she wanted to know.

          My sister and I started  immediately pulling wet snowy cold coats
     and clothes  off.   "It's  Philip.   It's  Philip," my  little  sister
     stammered through her tears.

          "Philip?" mom said with alarm in her voice.  "What happened?"

          "I'm  blind," I  sob nearly  incoherently,  "I'm blind,  and I'll
     never see again."

          Seated on a plastic lawn chair on the edge of the  long driveway,
     I listened  as  my  two  sighted  4 year  old  grandsons  raced  their
     tricycles back  and forth;  complete with their  own made  up guttural
     engine sounds.   By the way, all three of my children see normally and
     all of their children see normally.  So rest easy.  Blind people don't
     always reproduce blind offspring.  My wife, by the way, is blind, too,
     so there.

          It was a nice comfortable Colorado day.  Seated just behind the 5
     foot  wooden privacy fence, I was  shielded from the brightness of the
     sun as it  slowly crawled westward across  the big sky where  it would
     soon drop behind the Rocky Mountains behind me.

          I was bored.   There wasn't  anything to do.   My grandsons  were
     having  fun,  though,  and  it  felt good  just  sitting  outside  and
     listening  to  them play.    A  good  40  years had  passed  since  my
     realization of blindness had occurred.  I had been to that memory many
     times, even describing  it in my autobiography, but now it didn't hurt
     or cause me pain as it did that day.

          Listening to the little boys racing around and laughing, I leaned
     back in  my chair and  began to pray.   Much of  my prayer time  is in
     thought only.  I learned a long time ago, prayer is in no way confined
     to kneeling,  folding your  hands, closing your  eyes, and  praying by
     starting, "Oh,  God, and great  Heavenly Father."  Since  being filled
     with the Spirit in 1982 and receiving the gift of tongues, I have also
     learned that speaking in tongues isn't  the only way to pray.  So,  as
     my grandchildren  played nearby, I thought in my  mind to God.  That's
     right.  I allowed my thoughts to  become exchanged with God's.  Which,
     by the way, is my basic definition of prayer:  Exchanging our thoughts
     for God's.

          Moments  later, I  wasn't getting  anywhere.   So  I said,  in my
     thoughts,  "Ok, Lord.   You know where  I need healing.   What are the
     three major areas you want me to focus on for healing."

          The response was immediate.   God said, "Your blindness, sex, and
     money."

          "Woe, horse!"   I nearly fell off  my chair.  I  wasn't expecting
     anything along those  lines but there it  was; big as life.   Finally,
     once I had recovered  some of my composure, I  said, "Ok, Lord, but  I
     doubt I can get all three of those things cleared up in one day.  So,"
     I said,  "let's take them one at  a time."  I suggested  we start with
     the blindness because, frankly,  I thought it was there that the least
     amount  of healing would  be required.   After all, I  reasoned, I was
     pretty  familiar with  most of  my  blindness problems.   Yeah,  sure,
     right.

          Leaning back in  my chair, I asked  the Holy Spirit to  search my
     life and  to bring to my  attention anything relating to  my blindness
     that  needed healing.   Bing.  Bing.   Bing.   Three memories suddenly
     surfaced in my  thoughts.   I carefully  looked at each  of the  three
     memories but really felt no  pain or discomfort of any kind  in any of
     the memories.  I decided to take them one at a time and look them over
     very closely and pray about how I felt in each memory.

          The  first  memory I  prayerfully  examined  is  the one  I  have
     described in this testimony.  This memory has returned to  my thinking
     dozens and  dozens of times over the 40 plus  years I have been blind.
     It has never been particularly painful other than it was the moment in
     time I suddenly realized, with harsh  reality, I was really blind and,
     as  the doctor said,  I recalled,  I'll never see  again.   I told the
     Lord,  in my thoughts  as I prayed,  that I didn't  see anything wrong
     with this memory.   Since the memory often returned, I  knew there had
     to be something  I was overlooking so  I prayed and asked the  Lord to
     show me.   I went over  each phase of the  memory step by step.   Yet,
     nothing was apparent.  I even complained to the Lord.  "Lord," I said,
     "I don't even  feel any pain  in this memory.   So what is  wrong with
     it?"  He  did not answer me that  day.  In fact, he  did not answer me
     for many months.

          One evening, I  was conducting a prayer session with  someone.  I
     was  trying  to  explain  to   them  the  nature  of  healing  through
     intercessory prayer.  I used this very story to explain to them that I
     understood how they felt in the situation they were in at that moment.
     As I told the story, just  as I told it here, the Lord  said, "There's
     your  lie."  I almost stopped talking in mid sentence so I could think
     about it but decided to come back to  it later so I could focus on the
     memory.

          After  that prayer  session that  night, I  sat in my  office and
     reviewed this experience of coming face to face with my blindness as a
     12 year old boy.  When  the little girl took my hand and  placed it on
     the iron  hand railing to  the steps,  she wanted  to know  why I  was
     always asking for help to find it.  When I  blurted out, "Because I am
     blind," that is all that was  spoken aloud.  In my thoughts,  however,
     whenever I told this story, I finished how I felt at that very moment.
     I did not just  feel blind; I felt  I would forever be blind.   That's
     the implanted lie.  Confessing my blindness, as painful as it was that
     first  time, hurt a great  deal but I never realized  the rest of what
     was spoken, "And you will never see  again," was not spoken by me.  It
     was, in  fact, as Jesus  said, a lie.   I rejoiced in  the truth Jesus
     spoke.

          Now,  about this time, many people  are curious.  "So what?" they
     say.  "You  are blind and you are  never going to see  again."  Excuse
     me, but the first  part is true and the second  part, Jesus identified
     as a lie.  I no longer, when telling this story, use the second phrase
     because my Lord clearly pointed out the second half of what I heard in
     my thoughts was a lie.  In other words, if I didn't  say it, and Jesus
     didn't say it, who did?  You get only one guess.

          This immediately singles  me out from the Christian  crowd who no
     longer believes  that Jesus does miracles  today.  That died  out with
     the last  apostle; whoever  he was.   Let  me confuse  the issue  even
     further.  To receive my physical  sight, I don't need to be healed;  I
     will need a  recreative miracle.   Why?   Both my eyes,  for now,  are
     artificial.  So, I  don't need to be healed;  I need a miracle.   "Has
     Jesus  ever performed  a recreative  miracle?"   John Chapter  9 would
     appear to  be just such a case.  Of  course there are many others such
     as the lepers  he healed and especially  Lazarus.  You know,  the dead
     man?  Sort of difficult just to  heal somebody who has been dead for a
     few  days without having to recreate something in the process.  Blood,
     comes to mind right off the bat.

          Some may choose to suggest Jesus was  referring to His return and
     that is when  I would receive my  physical sight.  If  that's what the
     Lord meant, that is  fine with me.  However, during  prayer times, the
     Lord has told me more than once things along these lines.  Again, as I
     say, if  He is referring to His return  when all born again Christians
     will receive  their perfect glorified  bodies, that will be  fine with
     me.  You are welcome to think as you wish.  I, on the other hand, know
     what Jesus was talking about  and I am thankful He saw fit  to heal me
     in one more place where lies were believed instead of God's Word.

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