Vitamins for the Soul

Who will be my witness?

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

(John 9:5)


How many times have you felt truly listened to or heard?

Whenever I ask this question, the most common response is “I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly listened to or heard.”

Even at times of greatest distress, in sickness, loss or grief, many of us feel alone and abandoned. While many people choose to live or work alone, none of us would choose to face our most difficult moments without someone to hear us, to hold us, to bear witness to our suffering. 

I’m reminded of the Jewish writer who found himself interned in a Nazi labour camp during the Second World War. Each day, as he went out to work accompanied by the sneers and aggression of his captors, one of the guard’s Alsatian dogs barked playfully and leapt up to lick his hands and face. The dog did the same when the man returned, exhausted, at dusk. 

After the war, the writer said, “it was my fellow men who took away my dignity and my humanity but a dog gave them back to me. That dog was my witness.”

We all need someone to comfort us, to see and hear us, when we feel abandoned. A kind word, a touch, the barked greeting of a dog, can all heal our wounds. Yet all living things move on or pass away, leaving us to renew our sadness alone.

When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” he did so after restoring sight to a man who had been blind from birth. Before healing him, Jesus said, “neither this man nor his parents sinned.” I don’t believe Jesus was being literal when he said this. Even the best people sin. What he meant was that everyone has eyes to see the love of God and that love will be their witness, in this life and the life to come.