The Contact Lens Story


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Richard Cracroft

The One Step into the Dark Pattern

One of the patterns that has guided me in exercising personal faith first smacked me in the right eye as a young missionary. Only later did I understand that the One Step into the Dark Pattern recurs often in the scriptures and in our daily lives. President Harold B. Lee named it best when he taught us to "walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you" (quoted by Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980], p. 184).

That step into the dark is the start-up key to an act of faith. Thus the brother of Jared prepared 16 stones and, from the darkness of mortality but with the brightness of faith, asked, "Touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness" (Ether 3:4). And the Lord flooded Mahonri Moriancumer and his people with light. It is a pattern: Faith precedes the miracle, just as it did when Peter forgot himself and stepped out of that ship and into the darkness to walk upon the sea (see Matthew 14:29).

The Contact Lens

So it was, in a much diminished but no less important way for me, when, on a rainy summer afternoon in 1958, I unwittingly traced the One Step into the Dark Pattern while tracting along a gravel road on a hillside above Baden, Switzerland. As we walked from home to home, I was suddenly laid low by a speck of dust in my right eye. I learned, as one who had worn brand-new contact lenses for only five days, that a mote feels like a beam.

I quickly extracted the lens, cleaned it, and prepared to reinsert it. As I held my finger at the ready, a gust of wind swept the lens from my fingertip. My lens was gone with the wind, and I was aghast--and virtually blind, being plunged instantly into 20/600 vision in one eye, which had been miraculously corrected only a week earlier to 20/20.

Elder Neil Reading and I began to search on hands and knees in the wet gravel, sweeping an eight-foot radius about my point of loss; we searched unsuccessfully for twenty minutes. Half-blind and half-despairing, I suggested that while we were already in position, we should pray.

I reasoned with the Lord, told him about my need to see; about our need to meet our three investigator families that evening; about my feeling that there was more to be gained by finding the lens than by my learning whatever I was to learn from the loss.

As I concluded the prayer and stood up, I received one of those Joseph Smith "flashes of intelligence." It surprised me, but I reacted at once. Explaining the plan to my startled companion, I stood on my feet in the same place I had stood earlier, squeezed out my left contact lens, and was plunged into the distorted virtual blindness of 20/600 vision. I had begun my step into the dark. 

Assured that my companion was on his knees and at the ready, I put my left lens in my mouth, extracted it, and, mounting it on my finger some six inches from my face, I waited--but not for long. A slight breeze caught my left lens, and it was gone: my step into the dark was now complete. I stood stock-still, heart in throat, until Elder Reading said, "I see it. It's still in the air."

"Don't lose it," I pled.

"It's still up," he whispered, now 10 feet away. Then, from even further away, he exclaimed, "It's starting to fall!"

"Keep your eye on it," I pled again.

"I see it! I see it!" he said. There was a long pause and then, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!"

I braced.

"Oh my gosh," he said, "it's landed, and"--pause . . . pause . . . pause--"it's landed almost right on top of the other lens!"

"You see the other lens?" I shouted.

"Yes, it's right here!"

Unable to see a thing, I crawled over to him. Slowly, he planted in my palm, in order, my left and right lenses--my seer stones. I wet the lenses and, with my back to the wind and sheltered by my companion's hovering frame, I implanted them: "And there was light, and it was good."

And we knelt, and full of gratitude I thanked our God for tender mercies. We pressed on to the next house, filled with wonder at a God who knows each sparrow's fall and the exact whereabouts in Switzerland of Elder Cracroft's right contact lens. 

Richard Cracroft  -  BYU Dev., Dec. 10, 1996