Though I was physically losing my eyesight, internally I was still a person who could see
My name is Anne-Marie Berriaud. I am a French missionary and I have lived in Peru for 11 years. I have been losing my sight for many years now because of a degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa. All that remains of my sight today is the capacity to distinguish lights and shadows.
It has been and continues to be a long and rough road, an experience of loosing a great deal. However, I can now say that God has worked marvels with me through this. When I started losing my sight, I tried to carry on like before. Everything was more effort, it meant me being more tired and tense, but more or less I got by. However, things gradually became more and more difficult, and little by little I was surprised to find myself reacting in a way that I wasn’t used to: I became aggressive, demanding, overwhelmed.
I was physically losing my eyesight, but internally I was still a person who could see: until I couldn’t anymore. My internal coordinates stopped responding. What I had been building on me for years had collapsed. My way of loving, of praying, of living the mission, was no longer possible for me. However, I could not give up either loving or praying, or the mission. I had to look for new ways, new paths, and new coordinates. I had to look for what God wanted from me in that new situation.
I had to relearn everything, including using a cane, reading and writing in Braille and learning to use a mobile phone and computer with audio programs. I felt like a primary school girl. I had to learn to develop my other senses and to be patient, accepting that everything took much longer.
Little by little, I don’t know how, I have changed inside and now I can say that “I am happy with what I am.” God has taught me to trust him, to receive grace from him every day, to enjoy little things. The truth is that I feel much freer than before; I’ve had to give up so many things! I still have a very missionary heart. Every time I meet someone I try to make the most of it, and I look for people who are more capable than me who can do more and go further than me in this mission.
So, let’s not be afraid of anything, God never ceases to give us his grace which accompanies us in all that we go through.
Anne Marie Berriaud, San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru