Worthy of note

I picked these clover and liriope blooms on my walk last September, and photographed them so you can see them too!

I saw these clover and liriope blooms on my walk last September, 2014,
and photographed them so you can see them too!

“Recently I was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods, and I asked her what she had observed. ‘Nothing in particular,’ she replied. I might have been incredulous had I not been accustomed to such responses, for long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little.  How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch.”Helen Keller

The quote above is longer than the ones I usually feature here, but I wish I could have included the entire article from which the quote was taken.  When you have a few minutes, I suggest you read it and ponder what it says.

Today, I invite you to join me in giving thanks for the gift of sight.  As far as I am aware, all of those who read my blog can see.  In my entire life, I have had only a few friends who could not see at all.  This amazing gift of eyesight is shared by more than 99% of the people I know, yet I seldom hear any of us voicing gratitude for it.

Those of you who have shared photos with me through your blogs and emails have given me priceless glimpses into your lives, windows that allow me to know you better even if we have never met in person.  In seeing your homes, your dogs and cats and birds, your gardens and hometowns, the crafts you create and the cakes you bake, I am able to share the ways you have added joy and beauty to your own sphere of influence.

I’m grateful we are able to easily read each other’s words, and those of countless wise authors who have lived in years past, including the thought-provokingly candid words of Keller in the article linked above.  I’m thankful to have shared together reflections on the beauty of a sunset, or a snow-covered field, or an exquisite flower.  I’m happy that no matter where you live or what your personal circumstances, I can wish you a day of joy at seeing daybreak, or a sunny afternoon, or a cozy room filled with photos or plants or pets or people dear to your heart.

At times I complain about my eyeglasses or contact lenses.  How foolish of me, to complain of having something my ancestors would have been overjoyed to have!  When I stop to think about it, I so appreciate the gift of a relatively simple device that sharpens my vision and allows me extended years to fully enjoy the visual treats I have described.

Whatever mood you are in as you read these words, I hope you will feel happier just thinking about the amazing gift of eyesight.  Let’s take Keller’s challenge, and look at our worlds as if our sight would soon be gone.  We may never see things quite the same again.




  1. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia, and welcome home! I hope that nasty cold that been bothering both you and Matt has gone by now. I must say a prayer for my eyesight (not what it has been) and my glasses (that I have accused of making me blind). I am dependent on my glasses but seldom appreciative enough. Just yesterday from across the room I spotted a tiny (very tiny) part that Bill had left near the television after a project. I laughed and told Bill that I wouldn’t worry about my vision yet! 👏😊 I will read the article that you’ve shared.
    This is a very blustery morning as I’m noticing the wind whipping up the ocean ~~~ raging waves and whitecaps as far as we can SEE! 🌊
    I thought of you and our other Club Verandah members yesterday as I turned my calendar page. Spring is coming! 😍

    • Sheila, when I look at that calendar page I can just feel those warm South African breezes. That’s funny about your seeing the tiny TV part even with your “bad” eyesight. I am always saying that Jeff and Matt have “selective hearing” — maybe sometimes we have selective vision too. I thought how cozy it must be to be able to watch the stormy surf from the comfort of one’s own home. I will always remember that house on the beach in the movie “Julia” and how I thought it would be even more fun in the winter, to live with the ocean just outside one’s window. Enjoy the scenery for me and I’ll share an imaginary cup of tea with you. 🙂

      • Sheila

        Good morning, Julia. Another beachfront house (in the Hamptons) that I LOVE is from the movie Something’s Gotta Give. I love one particular scene, a storm catches “Erica and Harry” on the beach, so they run back to the house to close it up as the lightening and wind are furious. Speaking of tea, I’m enjoying the Christmas goodies! ⏰😉☕️

        • I really need to watch that movie again. I loved it the first time, but I don’t remember the beach house. I’m so happy you are enjoying the Christmas goodies! I have about 5 of the cookies you sent us left that I’ve been hoarding, but I know I’d better eat them soon. The tin has kept them very fresh, though! Hope you had a better day today than I did. Spent at least 4 hours in computer purgatory due to a browser hijack/malware issue. That’s 4 hours with Norton, going up three levels before they could fix it. Jeff and I are starting to get paranoid, what with all the hacking we’re experiencing just lately. (Our Amex card number showed up at a Target store in Brooklyn a few months ago; thankfully they were on it and called me immediately but what a hassle to change everything out!) This afternoon I was ready to sign off computers forever and go underground. If that happens, you’ll know where to find me. 😀 Can Walter fill in as a carrier pigeon?

          • Sheila

            Juia, do you know about GPS? Just make sure I have your whereabouts and I’ll DELIVER if you know what I mean! 🐥 I did fly once and was found in some underbrush a few houses down the street. What was “She” thinking? BLONDE maybe! I am almost 15 now so almost ready for my flying permit! 🐥💤

            • Oh dear Walter, I’m glad you recovered from your brief flight experience. Let’s hope the postal service is around for awhile. I’m not sure your carrier pigeon career should begin just yet!

              • Sheila

                WALTER: Juia, SHE says that I truly “flew the coop” that day! 🐥

                • I know you were just trying to keep her on her toes. 😀

  2. Thank you Julia for this reminder to enjoy all the beauty our eyes can see. My sister is totally blind. She was shot at the age of 21 by a jealous boyfriend. She has lived most of her life in darkness. It has been a hard life for her. I pray for her every day. We lost touch a few years ago.

    • Cherie, I am so sorry to read about that happening to your sister. A very similar thing happened to my friend’s son, though in his situation I believe he was shot by someone he didn’t know who was angry at the people he was with. He has done amazingly well I think, though as you say, life is hard. His mom tells me he is very lucky to be alive at all, after being shot in the brain and very nearly not making it through that first night. I hope that you are someday able to be in touch with your sister again.

  3. Steve

    Julia, one of my human hero’s in history is Helen Keller. So much gained from what she did not have. That beautiful eyesight of the mind through discernment or the heart by feeling the sense of love or hurt in others, all avail us in addition to what we see.
    I appreciate the encouragement of my vision especially as grandchildren appear and my close-up vision seems to be disappearing per say. Thank you for your thoughts, the results of your walk in the form of the flowers and, for the article by Ms. Keller. A wonderful way to begin my week! Each of these is a reminder of the temporary nature of this earth and the great desire to remain focused on the Eternal.

    • Hi Steve, it is always nice to hear from you. I too have always admired Helen Keller – like me, you have probably been to Ivy Green which is not so very far from your home town. I went there as a young girl and have never forgotten her story, which seems miraculous to me. And her teacher Annie Sullivan has been an inspiration to me in my 30 years of trying to help Matt work around and through his many disabilities. I’m so happy you have grandchildren to enjoy seeing! As Jeff and I learned almost 2 years ago, there is no sight quite like the sight of a grandchild. I’m happy you liked the blog post and I appreciate your kind words and visits here.

  4. Our gratitude and greater appreciation that we show for the things we take for granted, are often inspired by those who lack those very things. It should be not only our pleasure, but duty, to use those things well for the sake of those who wish they could.

    • Very well said, Alan. I will keep your words in mind. I remember as a little girl, specifically feeling very thankful that I could run. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that awareness probably came from my mother’s polio and the ways it affected her mobility. I say this because I don’t remember feeling particularly grateful for eyesight or hearing or other gifts, but I do remember feeling so glad to run freely. Until recent years, my mother was quite good at walking without supports but as far as I can remember she was never able to run at all. I used to tell people who were not nearsighted that they should be grateful every day that they woke up able to see clearly without putting on glasses or contacts. Each of us has gifts that others would prize, and I hope we can all learn to see our own gifts through the eyes of those who don’t have them.

  5. Carolyn

    Pretty flowers! Spring is around the corner. I’m ready yo clean off the porch and have some warm sunshine. My eyes are doing great. Have a great week. Love and hugs.

    • Carolyn, I am so happy that your eyes are doing well! And that you have some warm sunshine to enjoy. You probably know this, but as I wrote today’s post I thought of you and all you have been through with your eyesight recently. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead – and lots of nice weather in the weeks to come. Am I remembering right that spring comes a bit earlier to Memphis than it does to some other parts of the south (such as Virginia)? 😀

  6. bobmielke

    I asked my optometrist one time if I was farsighted or nearsighted. He said, “both”! He quickly followed his reply by stating that I need not concern myself with the hand God has dealt us at birth. He suggested I concentrate more on the gifts I’d been given like acute hearing and the gift of keen smell. It’s always amazed me that my other senses make up for what others miss in life. As the character “Cain” in Kun-Fu once said, ” How is it that you cannot see the breezes moving the trees”?

    • Wow, I would never suspect that you did not have perfect eyesight, since your photos are so flawless! You are right, though; we seem to develop compensatory abilities to go with whatever is lacking. If you have acute hearing, it’s no wonder you hate noise. Jeff and I cannot stand noise either, though his hearing has been impaired for years and mine is certainly not what it once was. I think our intolerance of noise would be even worse if our ears were more sensitive. I loved that TV show by the way. I have thought about trying to find it on DVD and watching every episode through from the very first one.

  7. Julia, you are such a gift. It’s so easy to take things for granted when we’ve never known differently. I drink in the world every day through all my senses. It’s glorious.

    • Thank you Alys! I too love to take it all in. I wonder whether the human enthusiasm for eating isn’t partly based on the fact that it engages all five senses so wonderfully.

  8. Ann

    Julia, another thought provoking blog. Recently I ‘ve been thinking a lot about this quote “what would I have tomorrow if I only had the things I was thankful for today.” I’ve been consciously trying to be aware of and thankful for my many blessings but I’ve never once thought to be thankful for my eyesight! The blessings in our lives are beyond number.


    • Ann, that’s so true. Even if we think about it and hear it often, the magnitude of what we have to appreciate doesn’t really kick in until we pause to start counting. I always run out of time (or tears) before I run out of blessings!

  9. Judy

    Thank you for introducing me to Helen Keller’s quote and for your reminder to be grateful for the gift of vision. Ours eyes can bring us an awareness of wondrous things that surround us, if we only take a moment away from our preoccupation with mundane or worrisome tasks at hand. Julia, take a look at tomorrow’s UR……there will be something about that there…..

    And you, special friend, have a way of using your camera to capture precious moments with your family. I’ve learned from you to take that picture of my husband doing a puzzle on the dining room table, or of the dog asleep by the wood stove. Everyday things that I normally wouldn’t have thought to capture on ‘film’ and preserve as a memory of how things were for us in that moment in time. They’re tomorrow’s treasures.

    How amazing it is to live in a time where we have photo images and written words available at our fingertips via the computer. Images that let us travel visually all over the world and into one another’s places. Our gift of vision helps us live abundantly in the here and now and even transports us to the past, the depths of the oceans, the universe. Incredible when you think about it. There’s much to be grateful for.

    • Judy, I just read your devotional – thanks so much for telling me about it. Today I had one of those head-down-in-the-boat days and really needed the reminder to keep looking up. Thanks for your remarks about the everyday photos. My photography professor in college told me that the best photos are the ones that aren’t posed. When he photographed our wedding, he took all the usual shots but the best ones were spontaneous, when he just walked around snapping photos of people talking, hugging, laughing. Those really are the treasures. I am so thankful for the advent of digital photography which makes it easy and affordable to capture such daily moments, as well as the gift of vision that allows us to enjoy them again and again. I appreciate your presence here and your thoughts on this post. By the way, I enjoyed your blog entry at UR as much as your devotional — and what a beautiful photo of you!

  10. Patricia

    Julia, I like to read your commentary the day after and don’t even know why! Today I’m not reading the other comments, only hurriedly posting this link that amazed me today: http://prayer.forwardmovement.org/forward_day_by_day.php?d=4&m=2&y=2015
    I’m looking for the “thin” places.
    May God bless us all,

    • Patricia, thanks so much for linking me to this devotional — I loved it! I had never heard the term “thin places” but I have certainly experienced them many times, and I am always drawn to them. Thanks for reading the comments; I’m so happy you enjoy them! I love hearing from readers; we have a very lively and enjoyable group here I think. I join you in asking God’s blessings on all of us, especially those in the heartbreaking news stories that seem never to end…

  11. HarryS

    At the great university which I attended we had to take a couple of courses in fine arts.
    We wise and seasoned freshman and sophomores didn’t see any sense in having to pay any attention to that “crap”.
    Today I know that their responsibility was to educate us and turn out well rounded Individuals.
    Our responsibility was to take the stuff whether we wanted to or not.
    Took me a little while to appreciate this as well as a lot of other things in my life. – Perhaps half a lifetime!
    Of course, “once I was blind but now I see”!

    • Harry, I have a Maxine quote on my little kitchen desk that says “Older, wiser and just generally more annoying.” 😀 Actually we older folks have nothing on the younger types we once were (so aptly described by you in your comment). I do feel I’ve learned a lot over the years, but sometimes I also agree with the old saying “just when I figured out the answers, they changed the questions.” I’m feeling a bit jaded after having spend much of the day gnarled up in computer woes. I need to remember my own words and “in everything give thanks.” Speaking of which, thanks for being here.

  12. Thank you for this post; I really really like that quote.. I am about to board a bus for Guayaquil and will let this incubate for a while… With the slow internet, not sure when I’ll be back, but you’re never forgotten!

    • Thanks Z, I appreciate so much your staying in touch even with spotty internet service. Enjoy some of that lovely sunshine for us…we’re back in the frozen land now!

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