Like Him –
I spent most of last week helping a friend clean up and prepare her yard for winter. There were other friends helping. On Friday, there were several trailer and truck full of limbs, trees, and yard debris. Almost everyone had a truck so we teamed up and began taking loads to the local Refuse and Recycle Center. There was a dump designated for yard trash and my partner and I pulled up and began unloading. There was a lot to put in the dumpster and towards the bottom of the pile I bent down to pick up a dropped limb and when I stood back up my partner was gone! I looked to see if he was in the truck ready to leave, if he’d fallen, or what happened. Then I spotted him. He was at another dumpster over helping an elderly couple with their trash. I hadn’t even seen them but he did and left to offer aid. I was impressed by his sight and his willingness to serve even as he was serving someone else. Even now my heart is warmed by his empathy.
I’ve decided, even though I’m almost 50 as I grow up I want to be like him.
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Yesterday, while weed-whacking around the house, underneath a large tree, I felt a sudden tingling sensation on my face and then a spider crawled down from my forehead and on my glasses! It was the only thing I could see. All other things faded from view while this eight-legged insect crawled on my dome. My hands, full of the weed eater put it down as quickly as possible and I swiped my face, brow, and head hoping to knock off the arachnid that seemed to drop from the sky. I never saw or felt it again after my; “Get off me!” dance and hoped it was gone for good. After shaking off the heebie-jeebies I thought about how silly I looked to any passerby who might have seen me. I was okay with that because they weren’t seeing the same thing.
Wisdom tells us that what we focus on is who we become. Our focus should be; love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness. However, too often we focus on what is right in front of us, whatever life brings our way. The next scheduled event, calendar item, emergency, chaotic event, becomes who we are, what our life is about and we never move beyond surface emotions or an insubstantial spirituality.
Focus on one thing long enough and it becomes your destiny.
“The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr
The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.
Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.
In Sight of What’s Important –
Last night, my wife, the dog and I sat in the most interior room of our house waiting for the all clear sign to be given. About thirty minutes prior every phone we have buzzed and beeped a cacophonic chorus. We looked at them and they all read; “Tornado Warning! Find Cover Immediately!” When we had received the message we did what all logical beings would do…went outside to see what the sky looked like. It was gray and growing darker. We went inside when lightning began striking and watched until the winds blew the rain sideways and we couldn’t see anymore. We determined it was time to get into the safest room and wait until the storm passed by. I sat holding the laptop and hitting the refresh button, Beth sat petting the dog while hail, rain, and wind pounded the house. After about an hour it was over. No damage was done save a few huge mud puddles littering the front yard.
The darkness and blinding of the wind and rain made it feel more unsafe than anything else. When you can’t see it scares you. You can’t see exits, shelters, ways to protection and safety. Whether storms of the Earth, of the mind or the spirit, sight is valued above all things. Last night I was thankful for shelter, family, and light inside. It was great reminder of what’s important and what’s not.
It happened the week of my birthday. I had a headache and needed to take some meds. When I grabbed a pill bottle I seemed to bring it up closer to my eyes than ever before to read it. Uhoh! The thought struck me, one day, maybe soon, I will need …gasp…bi-focals! So I headed to the eye doctor to get checked out. It had been a while so the following week my wife and I visited a place called “Total Vision” (the perfect name for a contemplative!)
After checking in we looked at glass frames and waited for the doctor to call my name. Have you ever noticed that when you are waiting for your name to be called when it finally happens you feel like you have won the lottery? You jump up and walk with your nose a little higher in the air? Almost as if to look down upon those unfortunate ones who are still waiting?
We followed the assistant to a machine where I was instructed to place my head like so, rest my chin here and relax. I did what I was told and the machine blew air into my eye! I am sure the lady told me this was going to happen but I wasn’t paying attention. Following this I had to sit in another chair at a different machine and look at a kaleidoscope that focuses and un-focuses. This wasn’t too bad and was like being on an “acid trip” without the acid, I guess.I was then led to another chair and was told the doctor would call me when he was ready.
My name was called, I jumped up and went into the examination room. Eye exams are strange events. You sit in a chair, they turn off the lights, lower another weird contraption in front of your eyes and the doctor asks “can read this?” My first thought is always “not without my glasses. My eyesight is so bad I can’t even read the big E at the top of the chart without my specs! Doesn’t he have my file in front of him?”
After realizing just how impaired my sight is the doctor adjusts the lenses and repeats “is this better or worse? Number 1 or number 2?” At first all this does is remind me I should’ve gone to the bathroom before I sat in the chair but with a little patience and experience the examiner begins to help me see more clearly. The exam doesn’t take long but this time the doc seemed to go faster than usual. Rather abruptly the examination ended and he said “your right eye needs an adjustment but not your left.” I said “OK,” thanked him, picked out my frames and left.
A week later I had my new glasses and almost immediately I noticed that my eyesight on the right was crisp but my left was still blurry. Figuring it would take a few days to adjust I waited. Several days later and still no change, I was concerned. Going back I inquired with the receptionist if someone could see me and described the problem. He asked for my glasses and checked to see if the prescription and alignment was correct. They were good to go but I wasn’t leaving before the optometrist gave me another look.
After waiting, again, I was called back, again, eyeball blowing, again, pretty colors, again, more waiting, and the doctor called me back…yes, again. I informed him of what was happening, looked through the lens machine, answered the chart questions and he took his time. He not only used the machine but also handheld lenses. When it was over he said “I think we need to increase your prescription in your left eye as well.” I thanked him again, ordered a new lens and now everything is just peachy.
I wonder if I do that sometimes? Someone comes to me for clarity, wisdom, guidance and I just rush them through, hurry them up? Maybe someone doesn’t even want advice just to be listened to?
What if we took our time with everyone we met? What if we didn’t see them as an obstacle, an appointment, a to-do item, but rather was fully present for them in that moment? If we did that for each other maybe we would all see a little more clearly.
light and wisdom,