Once a solitary explorer probing a South American jungle came upon a narrow crevice in a mountain and climbed through it into a mist-clouded valley. He was awestruck by the beauty of several waterfalls cascading into the great clouds of vapor, along with a rich profusion of multicolored flowers descending the mountain and gorgeous rainbow-hued birds. Slashing his way with his broad jungle knife through dense emerald vegetation he came to a clearing at the bottom of the valley. Before him was a village of thatched huts. Approaching it he saw a crowd of natives waiting for him, but when he called out a greeting they did not return it.
As he came closer, he saw each one had no eyes! Then a man, obviously the village leader, stepped forward. “Welcome stranger. We heard you coming as you slashed your way through the dense jungle.” As the elder nodded his head, two women stepped forward with baskets of fruits and bread. The explorer acknowledged his gratitude replying, “You are so fortunate to live in the most beautiful place in the world. Never before have I ever seen such magnificent splendor as the loveliness of these emerald mountains above your village that are crowned by veils of indigo-tinted mist.”
As he spoke the villagers muttered to one another shaking their heads, and he realized that lacking eyes they couldn’t see what he saw. One by one, some of them came to him to touch his face, and gently feeling his eyes they began to mumble apprehensively. For several days the explorer lived there and was treated royally but suspiciously. He continued speaking to them of the beauty of their valley, describing in detail the splendors surrounding them. The sixth day the tribal leader convened a meeting of the village elders in his hut. When it ended, he and the elders, along with a dozen or so men with knives, approached the explorer as he sat in the doorway of his hut.
Stepping forward the tribal leader said, “Do not be afraid! We’ve come to heal you of your hallucinations that you’ve shared with us. The elders have decided those two, small malignant knobs on your face are the cause of these delusions. Fear not, their removal will cause only slight pain for we shall give you a painkiller of mashed coco leaves. Then you will be healed of your mad visions.”
Instantly the explorer jumped to his feet and ran off into the dense jungle, and as he did he could hear the sounds of his healers chasing him. Coming to a tall vine-covered tree he quickly climbed it, silently clinging to the trunk. Below him he could see his blind pursuers’ arms outstretched searching for him. Hours later as the darkness of night covered the jungle he climbed down the tree and began to hurriedly run away, only to hear behind him the sounds of his persistent pursers. Coming upon a swiftly flowing river, he plunged in and floated downstream until sunrise when he climbed out. Seeing no one and hearing nothing, he rapidly began scaling the mountainside until he found the narrow gap through which he first entered the Valley of the Blind. Climbing through and out of the crevice, he breathed deeply in gratitude for his freedom...and his eyes.
This is a story to ponder in light of the ancient wisdom, “Where there is no vision, the people perish!” (Proverbs 29, 18) Yet in reality when people are given a vision, typically it is the visionary who perishes!