In reflecting on the Thanksgiving holiday this week, I was reminded of the attitude of gratitude shown by a former resident a few years back. Jane Malek gave all who knew her an amazing life lesson in how to surrender through gratitude when she went in for an “evisceration” of her left eye. Basically, she had her eye removed from its socket and then she got a prosthetic eye to replace it. Jane made what was a difficult loss into an opportunity for gratitude. She had a going away party for her eye a few days before the surgery with a cupcake and a candle. She said, I wanted “to thank my eye for all the help it has been to me over the years and reminisce about all the great things it has helped me to see.” She also asked a former pastor of hers if he had an appropriate prayer she could use for the occasion. The Rev. Dr. Steve Wayles is now retired from a long career in ministry and social justice work and he wrote this prayer for Jane:
“Loving God – who sees us and all things in ways that we can only begin to comprehend, thank you for making us in your image – and for giving us the gift of our eyes to see. We know that we are mortal, and that we are temporary and that each part of our bodies functions miraculously, but for a time. So we thank you for the time that we have to live – and for the time that each of our intricate body parts does its job. Help us as each of those parts wears down or wears out to let it go with gratitude that we had it for so long. Help us to grieve the loss of each part or faculty, but keep us from any bitterness that might diminish our life or the gift we have enjoyed for so many good days. As Jesus said of his whole life, that which we must all one day pray, “Into thy hands, o loving God, I commend my Spirit,” help me now to say “Into thy hands, o loving God who made and gave me this eye, I yield it back to you. Thank you for all it has helped me to see in my work of healing as a nurse, in my calling to be a good mother, in my beholding the people I love and have loved, in my seeing injustice so I could work on its correction, in beholding the beauty of your creation. Thank you. Now that its function has ceased for me – receive it back with my thankfulness for all you have done for me through it and in every other way. Help me to adjust and to see in new ways, until at last you receive me to yourself. In the name of Jesus who made the blind to see. Amen.”(copyright©. Used by permission)
In this season of Thanksgiving, I thank Jane for sharing how she so graciously handled the surrender of her eye. Thanks also to Steve for this prayer which gives hope and comfort to many as we all experience losses of parts and faculties. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!