Cameron’s Picture


I wondered why I had been moved to buy the picture of Jesus healing the blind man. But it wasn’t for me—it was for Cameron’s family.

I wanted the picture of Moroni burying the plates. Since President Ezra Taft Benson encouraged us to hang inspirational pictures, scriptures, and quotes in our homes, I had been systematically gathering and displaying on the walls of our home various works that were meaningful to me. On this June morning, I stood in the Salt Lake Distribution Center, far from my Texas home, patiently filing through the large pictures.

I had plenty of pictures already. Now I needed only a picture of Moroni, a prophet for whom I had a special feeling because of the power of his testimony.

As I searched for this picture, I spotted another deeply touching picture. It was a picture of Jesus healing a blind man. I reached for the picture, then put it back. After all, I had enough. And I had found the picture of Moroni.

However, as I walked away, I felt a nagging feeling. I turned back to add the picture to my purchases. I would frame the others, I reasoned. This one I would just take out and look at now and again.

It was some months after I returned to Texas that I finally got around to my picture projects. I framed the first picture and gazed at it with satisfaction. I then noticed that I had another frame. This frame had fallen behind the bed, and the joints had come apart. There was a chip off the corner. I repaired the frame, thinking it would be perfect for the picture of Moroni. But when I put the picture of Moroni in the frame, it looked all wrong. I tried other pictures with the same result.

Finally I placed in the frame the picture of Christ healing the blind man. It looked lovely, and it was a perfect fit. I turned the picture over and read the description on the back:

“‘And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

“‘Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him’ (John 9:2–3).”

I had never understood this scripture. Jesus healed the blind man, so the works of God were manifest. But what about all those who are not healed? What about my sister with disabilities, who had died when I was a child? What about Cameron, our home teacher’s son who had cerebral palsy and was in a wheelchair?

As I thought of Cameron, scenes flooded my mind.

We are sitting on our back porch with our home teachers. Cameron is in his wheelchair. He is bearing his testimony, slowly, painstakingly—fighting the obstinate, uncooperative muscles in his face.

“I know God loves me,” he says. “I love God.” It takes much effort, much time before he is finished. My husband, Van, leans forward.

“Cameron,” he says earnestly, “you are improving so much on your speaking. It is so much clearer. I can understand every word!”

Cameron beams with pride. I see my husband’s tender, caring face, and I wonder: Are not the works of God made manifest?

Dennis, Cameron’s father and our home teacher, relates in sacrament meeting the story of how Cameron got his first wheelchair from caring members of their ward. I see Cameron’s joy and gratitude. Again the thought: Are not the works of God made manifest?

At twelve, Cameron is old enough to pass the sacrament. One of the brethren in our ward has designed and fitted his wheelchair with a special tray. The bread and water are placed on his tray by members of his Aaronic Priesthood quorum.

He wheels to the end of the pew, where a member lifts the tray to partake of the sacrament. Are not the works of God made manifest?

I see Cameron, my sister, and others I have known who have disabilities in mind or body. Others carry them; others are their arms, their legs, their minds. I see these same individuals with disabilities, giving others gifts of love and hope. I see the works of God made manifest for them and by them.

I sat down weakly on the bed. Why were these thoughts flooding my mind? I was expecting a baby. Perhaps the baby would have a disability. I knelt and prayed. I felt no impression about the child. I decided to hang the picture of Christ and the blind man. So the picture hung in Moroni’s intended place. Often I would look at it, imagining.

I can see nothing. Then I hear words of peace. My blindness is not because of sin. I cannot see, but I hear. He spits on the ground and makes clay. He anoints my eyes. “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam,” he says. I obey. I come back seeing.

People ask how this has happened. I tell them a man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me to wash in the pool of Siloam. I went and washed, and I received sight. They ask, “Where is he?” I do not know. I have not seen him (see John 9:2–12).

There were complications in my pregnancy, and the doctor prescribed total bed rest. Two weeks before my due date, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

That April when Dennis came to home teach, he brought Cameron. They left the wheelchair outside. Dennis “walked” Cameron in with his “walking hug”: Cameron’s feet on his and Dennis’s arms around Cameron’s chest. First, Cameron passed off his scholarship merit badge with my husband, Van, and then Dennis showed us a videotape he had made of Cameron for a class he was teaching. On the video, Cameron talked about his challenges and satisfactions. He bore his testimony; he spoke of the next life.

I left the room briefly, and when I returned, I noticed Cameron slumped in a corner on the couch. He looked weaker, somehow.

His body is failing, I thought. But hadn’t his body always failed him? Suddenly I received the impression that there was a tremendously strong spirit inhabiting that weak, frail body.

Dennis picked Cameron up and walked toward the door. While they paused in our entryway, Cameron sagging in his father’s arms, I pointed out the picture of the man born blind and tried to explain what that picture meant to me. I tried, awkwardly, to tell Cameron that the picture reminded me of him. I told him the works of God were manifest in his life.

“That’s neat, isn’t it, Cam?” Dennis asked, and then they left. I looked at my healthy baby, and it suddenly occurred to me that that wasn’t my picture at all. It was Cameron’s. I almost ran after them to give it to them, but instead resolved to give them the picture the next time they visited.

I looked at the picture again, then decided to read the account in John chapter 9. I pictured the man born blind as I read.

He was brought before the Pharisees. The Pharisees asked him how he had received his sight, and he told them of the clay, the washing, the sight. They did not believe him. They called his parents. Had their son truly been born blind? How did they explain this? His parents feared because anyone confessing the Christ was to be put out of the synagogue.

“He is of age,” said his parents. “Ask him.”

They called the man again. “This man,” they said of Jesus, the only sinless one, “is a sinner.”

“Whether he be a sinner or no, “ said the man born blind, “I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

They asked him again, how had he been healed? He answered them, “I have told you already, and ye did not hear.” They reviled him and cast him out because he testified to that which he knew.

Hearing of this, Jesus found the man and asked if he believed on the Son of God. The man born blind, looking on the Lord for the first time, asked, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?”

Jesus answered, “Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”

“Lord, I believe,” the man born blind replied. And he worshipped Jesus (see John 9:13–38).

Some weeks later I received a phone call. It was Cameron’s mother, Joyce. She was the Young Women president; Van was the Young Men president. It was routine for her to call and leave messages with me when he was out of town.

We spoke for a few minutes, and she indicated that she was tying up all loose ends before Cameron’s surgery. Cameron’s surgery? I tried to think. Oh, yes, something to help his hips. The conversation ended, and I hung up the phone.

Suddenly the realization came to me: Cameron was going to die.

I felt nauseated and weak. I went to my bedroom to pray. Was there something I should do? After praying, I felt a sense of reassurance.

Cameron had his surgery. Joyce called and reported that all had gone well. What relief! Still, I sensed something in her voice. Everything seems fine, she said. Why did I notice that choice of words?

The next day as I was trying to organize my day, the telephone rang. It was Jamie, a member of the Relief Society presidency.

“How are you?” I asked politely.

“Not very good,” she answered, as she started to cry. “Cameron passed away last night.”

I sat down.

“I just thought that you should know since you’re Joyce’s visiting teacher.”

“Thank you for calling me, Jamie,” I said. “You may never really know how much this means, but unless you’ve changed the visiting teaching assignments without telling me, I’m not Joyce’s visiting teacher.”

“Oh, Ruth,” she almost wailed. “I’m sitting here looking at this list, and I can’t believe I made such a mistake. Your name is the next one under …”

“Jamie,” I interjected, “it was no mistake. This call was definitely no mistake.”

I took down the picture of Jesus healing the man born blind. I wrapped it and thought of a gracious God who prepares answers to prayers before they are uttered. I felt his tremendous love for this family and this boy who had been called to a mission where he would not need to take his wheelchair. I wrote them a letter and hoped it would comfort them, and I attached it to the gift. I looked at it. You’re supposed to take bread or casseroles to a family after a death, aren’t you? What would they think when I walked into their grief with a wrapped gift?

The picture depicting the miracle of Jesus healing the man born blind now hangs in the home of its rightful owners, and every day I walk past a picture of Moroni praying. I appreciate this great prophet even more now. He, too, understood blindness and sight: he taught, “Dispute not because ye see not” (Ether 12:6). His testimony brings hope to those who suffer.

O Lord, anoint our eyes with clay, we pray.
Let us wash in the waters of faith,
That we may come out
Seeing.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann

[illustration] Above: Detail from Jesus Healing the Blind, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, original at the Chapel of Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark; used by permission of the Frederiksborgmuseum