Seeing Is Believing
I can’t see, not like I used to. “What does this say?” I am often asking John at the grocery store. “How many calories are in that coffee-creamer? Does that say 3 per serving? Oh, 35, hmm, let me think about that.” Sometimes I don’t see so well. I can’t see the fleeting look of impatience on my face that can hurt my husband’s feelings.
I can’t see that though I love my job and I CAN work ten 10-hour days in a row, that does not let me give my best self to Middle Church, does not model healthy leading, and certainly does not honor the command to keep Sabbath.
Sometimes I can’t see that God is at work, as one colleague recently said, using the sandpaper of relationships to change all of us.
I tell you, family, I want to see better through the murkiness of behaviors that wound—including my own—and find the inherent goodness I believe to be hardwired into humankind.
Our vision—what we see, how we see it, and how we respond—is so much shaped by our place in the world and by the people around us. How do they care for us and hold us? Do we feel safe or afraid? Are we lonely and cold, or do loving hands tuck us into a warm bed at night? Do we have a clear sense that when we cry out, someone will come and answer, or do our cries go unheeded? How do we connect our fear or comfort to our sense of the Holy?
Sometimes we are so close up on something, we can’t really see it. We have to stand back, get perspective, and look at the thing again. What appears to be one thing may indeed be something else altogether. What looks like a heartbreaking change is a call being answered, a dream come true. What looks like “no” can be “yes” to a new idea, a new way to be faithful.
I believe the faithful, ethical life is about seeing and not being indifferent. How do we learn to see beyond our limits, beyond our borders? How do we learn to see through the lenses of others? How do we stand back so we see a larger picture, one seen from a distance? Can we focus our sights on the ethic of love?
Writing about seeing in her powerful memoir, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard observed, “Light, be it particle or wave, has force; you right a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”
Though hampered with cataracts, I want to see my way to loving God’s people by riding the solar wind. I want not just to be the handler of the sail, I want to be the sail. I want to be lifted, sped along, driven by the Light to more Light. I want and need to trust this God who is shining her way toward me, floating me on rainbow currents toward a place of seeing and understanding.
I pray for eyes wide open that can peer into the muddy daily-lived life and have insight about how best to love myself, my neighbor, and my God. I pray for eyes that can screen, discern, analyze, and pry into the murkiness and help us find our way to ethical living in a multi-religious world.
I admit that partial blindness can feel safer than pure sight, and sometimes I choose not to see because I am afraid. Emily Dickinson says, “If your nerve denies you, go above your nerve.”
With more faith than doubt, with more courage than fear, I ask you to come with me toward the deep light. Let’s go above our nerve. When I can’t see, I will ask you, “What does this say?”
And you will help me. I promise, if you ask, I will do the same. Seeing, dear ones, is the first step in believing ourselves to a healed world.
See what I mean?