When the eyes have it . . .
To have a chat face-to-face with Cindy Christian Rogers is to be seen. Truly seen, as in recognized, appreciated, remembered.
But the fact that Cindy can see you in a visual way is a story in itself.
An extraordinary editor, writer, and artist, she has lived for years with a condition that distorts her corneas, steepening them like the end of a football (the gridiron kind). Wearing special contact lenses improved her vision enough to pursue her career -- as long as new ones were crafted each time her corneas changed, which was far too frequently.
But in 2002, the condition worsened so severely she underwent surgery for her left eye -- a corneal transplant. Despite post-surgical complications and a long recovery period that limited how much time she could do things most of us take for granted, to use a computer, and to drive, Cindy did not let setbacks overshadow her gratefulness.
If anything, the experience deepened her appreciation for what she could do.
Here's what the Minnesota Lion's Eye Bank writes about her:
Cindy volunteers in numerous capacities for the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank as a way of expressing her appreciation for the gift of sight. "But most of all, I honor the individual who most made possible this gift, the donor," she says. "I've found myself considering the saying, 'The eyes are the windows to the soul,' and I keep imagining the kind soul who restored my eyesight-and, no less so, my spirit. Corneal graft recipients know that a graft is a gift beyond vision. It is a gift that restores the soul."
To help Cindy improve her vision, literally and artistically, she began to paint. And paint. And paint. And paint.
Several years ago, I received a greeting card from her at year's end with an image and words that made me weep. They touched something deep inside me, tapping into my love of the wilderness, the Northern Lights, and the great peace I experience when I'm quiet and still enough to be aware of the The Great Unknowable.
The words were: "Heaven and nature sing." And the image, as it turns out, was her first painting. I was fortunate to be able to acquire it from her. It graces the north wall of my bedroom, hanging just above my nightstand, and it's the last thing I see before I fall asleep each night.
What has been good for Cindy's soul has been good for mine, too. Really, that shouldn't be a big surprise, given our history of synchronicity, but as another wise friend advises me, it's a good thing to "stay open to surprise."
This weekend, Cindy's beautiful paintings (and greeting cards) can be seen at the annual Edina Art Fair in Minnesota. I'll be there, too, (booth 173 ) happily watching others see her work for the first time and Cindy see them and discover what touches their souls. If you're anywhere near Minneapolis, I hope you'll stop by. The fun happens at 50th Street West and France Ave South Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Tomorrow: Cindy answers 7 questions I posed to her during an interview -- and two more paintings, including her personal favorite (and why it is)!
Image: "Heaven and nature sing" - oil on canvas, in the blogger's personal collection