Cobwebs and Cataracts

cobweb - photo by PIXNIO

Joan had cataract surgery. Overnight she developed all kinds of wrinkles. Well, actually, she simply hadn’t seen them before. With her eyesight improved, looking in her mirror was a revelation. Much came to light that she didn’t necessarily want to see. Laughing, she learned that she hadn’t known the whole truth about herself.

Bright light can have the same effect. For example, early one morning I sat in my dining room with dawning sunlight tiptoeing in via the shade-covered window. The flame of a small candle offered soft light conducive to prayer. Refilling my coffee cup, I habitually turned on the light when reentering the room, but it was so stark that I blinked. Now I could see every dust bunny and cobweb. I dimmed the light so I could be comfortable in the mess. I preferred not to know the whole truth about the condition of my house at that moment.

And then there are my spiritual flaws, which I often prefer not to see. Since God is light, there is absolutely no darkness whatever in God (1 John 1:5). My “spiritual pupils” may need some time to adjust to God’s pure light, because my habitual sins and failures stand out in sharp contrast.

A clever deception might slink up when I focus on my shortcomings. An enemy force outside myself whispers, “Following God is going to be too hard. You’ll have to give up too much. God’s spotlight is harsh. Glaring. You won’t like what you see! You won’t be able to stand up to it. Back out now.”

When tempted to turn off a revealing source of clarity or spiritual light, I will turn to Scripture: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; / whom shall I fear? / The LORD is the stronghold of my life; / of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Sometimes in prayer, when I feel God is very close, it can be a bit intimidating, even scary. When I catch a glimpse of God’s majestic splendor and invitation to take up my cross and follow, I resist. But God has a magnificent plan in store for me.

Brilliant light also reveals goodness. In her book, Taste and See, Ginny Kubitz Moyer describes being dazzled by color. She points to the old movie, The Wizard of Oz, which begins filming in black and white. When Dorothy lands after the tornado, leaves her home, and steps into a new magical land, the film switches to technicolor. It’s almost overwhelmingly beautiful.

My spiritual eyes might just need a little time to adjust to God’s invitation to follow. That’s OK. God will wait for me to grow into the call and say yes to a plan that will be good for me. In the meantime, I can ask for the grace to want to participate in being the light of the world easily visible from a distance.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’” (2 Corinthians 4:6) wants to shine in my heart.

Photo by PIXNIO.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. In his poems Kevin Hart often addresses God as “Dark One”. This is an excerpt from his poem “Prayer”: I stand here, Dark One, on a narrow brink/Before a life I know full well and you,/Before a longing for a life I knew,/And tell myself that stepping back a blink/Would bring me close to you, as I once was,/When crumpled water showed its dark, wild life/And brooding morning shadows held me safe.


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