Friday, May 13, 2011

Eyes to See

"Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people." Isaiah 12:2

Someone recently asked me what I enjoy about blogging. I immediately knew my answer. Blogging, when I write regularly, gives me eyes to see. It's the same thing that happens in the discipline of journaling, which is why the tagline for this blog is "a journal." Referring to journaling, or blogging, as a discipline is fitting, as anyone knows who has tried to maintain one. It takes commitment and work. In the case of blogging, your thoughts are formatted to be shared and read by others. Sometimes you wonder if anyone out there is reading, but in the end it doesn't matter if they are or not. (Dear reader, let me assure you that you are appreciated. I do thank you for reading. What I mean is that...) It's not about the writing itself (lines on a screen or page) but more about what the process of writing causes you to see in the world. It's about having eyes to see.

For the last few months, I have had tunnel vision. Like a distracted driver on his cell phone, my field of vision has been significantly shrunk to focus only on what was right in front of me. Some of this narrow vision may have been necessary as I finished my last semester of college, but it's all too easy to stay in this visual mode if I am not woken up to the greater world around me. This waking often comes in whispers and unwelcome waiting. Today I heard a whisper and felt a nudge. I was waiting for a party to end.

It was my daughter's sixth grade class graduation party. The kids were swimming at a teacher's house, and my wife asked me to join them after my afternoon dentist appointment. I was thinking that I'd rather go home and have some time to myself, but I knew that she could probably use my help. I went to the party. We ate, talked with the other adults there, and watched the kids play in the pool. Eventually, all the kids left as parents came to pick them up, everyone except one girl. My wife and I were responsible for making sure everyone got home, so we had to wait for this girl's parents to arrive before we could leave. The girl called her mom, and I gave directions over the phone.

As we waited for those next thirty minutes, I began to survey my surroundings. I had been here for two hours, but had I really looked before now? I saw a wooden fence with a wide pasture on the other side. I saw cows grazing in the distance. I saw an old open-air workshop behind a small wooden shed standing on cinderblocks. I saw vibrant green shrubs and blossoming flowers and clinging ivy that climbed one of the walls of the house. But even amid the beauty around me, a true appreciation eluded me like a movement in the corner of your sight that disappears when you turn toward it. I could see nothing extraordinary, nothing beyond the surface beauty, but I should have. What I did see today, more than anything else, was my own tunnel vision. And in seeing that, I felt a nudge that seemed to say, "Wake up. Look. Keep looking."

Journaling is a discipline because truly seeing is a discipline. More than a discipline, seeing is also a responsibility. When we fail to truly see the world around us, we fail to be present to the people and places God has given us. There is rebellion in choosing not to see the gifts we have been given, when we fail to give these gifts our attention and delight in them. Tunnel vision is ultimately not due to stress, but to a stiff neck. It took a sixth grade party today to loosen me up a bit. It took an inconvenience to hear a whisper. It took a fence and a field to feel a nudge. It took a blog post to remind me to keep looking.

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