On Sunday, I shared with the congregation about my annual trip to the eye doctor the previous week. I was pleased to hear the report from the doctor: my vision had not changed much at all since my visit a year earlier, I don’t need a new prescription, and my eyes are healthy. However, as I was preparing for the sermon, I was reminded that just because I can see well does not necessarily mean that I do see well.
I was reminded of this when I had spent the previous week packing boxes and getting ready for the movers to come load my belongings, which they did last Thursday. (It takes nearly a month to ship household belongings to Kauai!) I found myself putting down the large tape dispenser that I used to seal all of the moving boxes and not being able to find it…over and over again…even though most of the time it was right in front of me!
My guess is that we all, at times, fail to see things right in front of us. By the way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. It is just part of what it means to be human. We aren’t wired to see everything all the time. (Besides, that’s God’s job; not ours!) However, there are times when we don’t notice some of the most important things in life. Sometimes this is because we are not facing in the right direction. At other times it is because of distractions all around us.
So, what are we to do in order to keep us from missing the most important things in life? The ancient mystics had a wonderful saying (in Latin): ubi amor, ibi oculus–which translates roughly, “Where there is love, there is seeing.” They insisted that our seeing must be guided by love, and that when we look at things in love, we will see things that we would otherwise miss. The author and spiritual director Deborah Smith Douglas writes about how any kind of significant change in our lives depends on our willingness to change how we see…and to her, gratitude is perhaps the most important discipline (yes, discipline!) in changing how we see the world.
So there you have it! Seeing with love and seeing with gratitude are the two keys to seeing the important things in world around us more clearly! I would add to this the suggestion of John Calvin that we use the Scriptures as our spectacles (or lenses) through which we see everything.
For me, the Church is a kind of eye clinic. We study the eyeglasses, the biblical stories, and make sure we have the right focus, love and gratitude. I invite you to see the world around you this week through the eyes of love and gratitude, looking through the lenses of the Bible.
Sincerely, Pastor Alan