Philip Yancey writes: Gratitude was the one quality that most impressed me about Paul Brand. For him, the universe was God’s own work of art, and the human body God’s masterpiece. Long after we had published our three books together, Dr. Brand kept making notes, prayers to express more formally the gratitude and thanksgiving he felt every waking day. These two excerpts reveal the spirit of Dr. Brand, a man who accepted the world as a marvelous gift, to which the proper response is gratitude.
I thank you, Lord, for the gift of sight.
Not content that I should see light and shade, you have blessed me with the ecstasy of color. I think of the millions of cells lining the back of my eye, each calibrated to its own wavelength of color, each shielded from blinding light by watchful guardians that adjust the pupil size in response to changing light and shade. You designed living lenses, crystal-clear, flexible, and guided by tiny muscles that allow instant and precise focusing. I praise you for tears that cleanse, and for eyelids poised to blink down protection in a split-second reflex.
Lord God, I marvel that, though light never enters my brain, thousands of the finest nerves, each responsive to just one light-perceptive cell, convey images of reality into my mind, which stores them away for future retrieval…
Help me, dear Lord, to use these days of sight in a way that honors the gift of light. Help me to gaze at each sunset as if it were my last, to look upon scenes and friends with an artist’s eye, compiling a memory bank of beauty and love. ..
And while I see, may my guiding hand be quick to help the one who falters because his world is dark, to share with others the benefits of the gift of sight.
I thank you, Lord, for the sense of hearing.
Deep in the dense bone of the base of my skull, protected from vibration and from heat, you have placed rows of tiny hairs that bend to the movement of the fluid that bathes them. Each hair vibrates to the frequency of just one wavelength of sound. Too fragile to be exposed to the hurly-burly of the outside world, they feel vibrations filtered through canals and mediated by tiny guardian instruments of bone.
Music and voices come to me without effort, awakening without my conscious thought memories of sounds and of speech. … The design that made such wonder come to life lies beyond the fathoming of science, but God forbid that I should revel in the ecstasy of music and the joy of sound without giving thanks to you, my Lord…
You have given, too, an extra gift beyond that of my sense of hearing: the ability to listen.
Grant, oh Lord, that I may tune my hearing mind to detect that human voice that needs a listening ear.
Help me, Lord God, to listen to your lonely child and so express my thanks to you for ears to hear.
From “A LITANY of THANKSGIVING”
by Paul Brand as edited by Philip Yancey