Cameron’s Picture


I wanted the picture of Moroni burying the plates. Ever since the General Authorities had encouraged us to hang inspirational pictures in our homes, I had been gathering various art works that were meaningful to me. On this June morning, I stood in the Salt Lake Distribution Center, far from my Texas home, patiently looking through a collection of 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 one that touched me deeply. It was a picture of Jesus healing a blind man. I pulled it out, but when I found the picture of Moroni, I put it back. After all, I had enough.

However, as I walked away, I felt a nagging feeling. I turned back and added the picture of Jesus and the blind man to my purchase. I would frame the Moroni print, I reasoned. This one I would just take out and look at now and again.

It was some months after I returned home that I finally got to my picture projects. I framed the Moroni picture and gazed at it with satisfaction. Then I noticed another frame that had fallen behind the bed. I pulled out the frame, thinking it would match some of the other prints I had collected. But when I placed each of them in the frame, none of them looked right.

Finally I placed in the frame the picture of Christ healing the blind man. It looked lovely. 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 had healed the blind man so that the works of God could be 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. I can understand every word!”

Cameron beams with pride. I see my husband’s tender, compassionate face, and I wonder: 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 in that sacred act?

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. Whatever the impression meant, it had something to do with the picture of Christ and the blind man. So I hung the picture in Moroni’s intended place. Often I would look at it, imagining that I was the man born blind.

I can see nothing. Then I hear words of peace. My blindness is not because of sin. I cannot see, but I can 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 named 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 9:1–12).

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. Dennis showed us a videotape he had made of Cameron. 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.

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 explained to 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, then back at the picture. Suddenly it 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 decided to read the story of the blind man as found in the Gospel of John, chapter 9.

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 Christ would 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.

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; my husband, Van, was the Young Men president. It was routine for her to leave messages with me.

As we spoke, 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 feeling 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. Still, I sensed something in her voice. Everything seems fine, she said.

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.”

“Thank you for calling me, Jamie,” I said. “You may never know how much this means.” I hung up the phone, then 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 wrote Cameron’s family a letter that I hoped would comfort them, then I attached it to the 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.
Let us wash in the waters of faith,
That we may come out Seeing.

[illustration] Jesus Healing the Blind by Carl Heinrich Bloch

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann