Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Sharon Donovan

Hello and welcome to Day 19 in my Countdown to Christmas Blog! Christmas is a time for reflecting and when I hear the song “Oh Holy Night,” it takes me back in time to my darkest hour. But, where there is hope, there is light. And I eventually found light at the end of a tunnel.

Oh Holy Night

Eight years ago I lost my vision after a long bout with progressive blindness. Devastated and despondent, I enrolled in a 16 week rehabilitation program for mobility, personal adjustment and the use of a computer with adaptive software. Part of the reason I was reluctant to enroll in a program for the blind and visually impaired was becauseI feared these people would be ignorant and uneducated. I was an artist, a legal secretary, a professional. What could I possibly have in common with “those people?”

I was wrong. They were all ordinary people with extraordinary problems, just like me. We were all thrust into a living nightmare due to circumstances beyond our control. I met doctors, nurses, teachers and paramedics, all with some type of eye disease that had or was robbing them blind. Many had the added burden of facing marital problems because a spouse could not accept the pending blindness. Through this program, we formed an unbreakable bond. We laughed and we cried. Together, we faced an incredible journey filled with endless challenge and heart-wrenching pain. Words can never describe the feeling of being fitted for a white cane, the fear of being in the onslaught of traffic without sight, traveling the long and bitter road from denial to acceptance.

As fate would have it, I was at the program during Christmas that year. We pitched in and had a party, all of us taking part in the celebration. In a huge kitchen, we made cookies and appetizers. But through it all, there was a silent humming that echoed off the walls…depression. For the most part, this was the first Christmas we were facing without vision. Some broke down, others lost their tempers and stormed out of the room, unable to cope with the dark depression and feeling of being segregated and alienated. But then something happened. One woman stood and walked over to the pianist and began singing like an angel, “Oh Holy Night.”

The result was miraculous. Her melodic voice sliced through the depression. When the song ended, there was a moment of silence where you could truly hear a pin drop. And then the applause rose to the heavens, bringing the house down in glorious exultation. Nothing will ever compare to the sheer beauty of that moment. Every time I hear O’ Holy Night, I tear up and remember a time in my life when what didn’t kill me made me stronger.

Oh Holy Night!
Oh Holy Night!
The Stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world and sin in error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by a star so brightly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Change shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

And after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected. This is a published poem in my book Echo of a Raven about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy. Painting was my life, my passion. When I could no longer see to paint, my world simply stopped revolving. But my creative muse shined through. I began taking classes in creative writing and memoir workshops and hope soared. Here are the final words in my memoir.

Yesterday

By Sharon Donovan

Was it only yesterday
I painted Rome 2,000 years ago?
When most of the known world was ruled by the Roman Forum
as it appeared in late antiquity.

I painted the ancient Coliseum
where cruelty was cheered by spectators
in superimposed tiers.

I painted the ruins of Villa Adriana
where mosaic marvels slumbered
until its excavation unburied a builder’s splendor
whose vision it was to incorporate the seven wonders of the world
in one site.

I painted the Valley of the Temples
where most of its grandeur lies in ruin
with the exception of mighty architecture which failed
to fall, acquiesce, or perish beneath ashen rock.
But still, it stands tall, erect, and inept in this maze of modern amenities.

Was it only yesterday
I painted Pompeii,
a once opulent resort for wealthy Romans
buried beneath ash and stone until its excavation
revealed hidden marvels
and the Roman empire was rebuilt?

Was it really only yesterday that painting was my dream
my passion
my life?

It seems like only yesterday
my life erupted like a volcano, my vision destroyed,
burying my dreams of painting
until
like ancient Rome,
my life was rebuilt.

From the maze of mayhem and rubble
a new dream resurrected
renewing hope and inspiration for a brighter tomorrow.
Today,
motivated by new insight,
instead of painting pictures on canvas,
I paint my pictures with words.

To see some of my paintings(that I did not destroy in the throws of depression), visit my art gallery on my website:
www.sharonadonovan.com

To read my memoir in full:
Echo of a Raven
Buy button:
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/echo-of-a-raven/7275809

12 comments:

Maeve Greyson said...

Sharon, you are a true phoenix risen from the ashes and an inspiration to us all. Bless you in your journey and thank you for having the courage to share your story. Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year to you.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Maeze. Thank you. Christmas is a time for reflecting and the journey I took, however hard, had light at the end of a very dark tunnel. When one door closes, another opens. And the creative muse reigned.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kathleen said...

Echo of a Raven is a fabulous, inspiring book that like Christmas gives us hope.

Sharon Donovan said...

Kathleen, thank you. Your words of encouragement humble me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And on behalf of JDRF, we thank you. A portion of Echo is being donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation fight for a cure.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my friend.

Judy said...

That was a very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing!!

Mary Ricksen said...

Sharon, in you I see a pure soul. In you I see amazing strength, with you I find peace. This journey was meant to teach you something, and Sharon I'd say you got it. Not only do you get it, but you spread it.

Linda Swift said...

Sharon, your story and poem are so inspiring to sighted people as well as those who are not. You may have lost your sight but you have not lost your vision in the deepest sense of the word. Merry Christmas.

Sharon Donovan said...

Judy, thank you so much. Every day I count my blessings and hope for a brighter tomorrow. In the meantime, I thank God for modern technology and the friends I have met through this journey.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, dear friend. You have the voice of a poet. Never change. You always make me smile.

Sharon Donovan said...

Linda. Thank you. I consider your words of wisdom a great compliment. Meeting you this year through this incredible journey has been awesome and I consider your friendship a gift.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Sharon, I'm sitting here in tears. I have no words, but you know what's in my heart. It is a blessing to know you, it truly is. :)

Jane x

Sharon Donovan said...

I know and understand, my dear friend. And one day our hope for a brighter tomorrow will reach fruition. Cheers, Jane. And a very Merry Christmas and New Year!