"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Eyes to See

photo source
Sometimes I just don't see very well.

My eyes work just fine, but my mind and heart occupy another world... and I don't see those around me.  Rushed.  Hurried.  Busy.  I can miss life around me.  Distracted.  Focused.  Task oriented--Or, me oriented?  My world.  Me and those I love.

The outerworld and others can pass me by at rapid speed and I just don't see.
Sometimes I just don't see.

Often, maybe, I don't see very well.

Yesterday we visited the massive city of London.  I had come to enjoy the brilliant lights of Christmas.  We had ventured to this big city to relish the Christmas markets- busy and full of sellers and German sausages.  And I did.  I saw them, savored the moments, and loved every bit!  What a joy!  

While walking down the busy streets of London, though, I stopped looking.  Hundreds and hundreds of people on the street walking, hurrying, as we skillfully avoided collision with each other.  With masterful movements we darted and weaved and bobbed... so as not to touch.  So very separate. And if we did happen to touch, we ignored the fact that we did.  We pretended it didn't happen.

I don't see or feel you, you don't see or feel me.  Fascinating, really, this dance of strangers.

At one point, my husband leaned in while we walked.  He asked for some change from my pocket.  He saw.  He was asking for a bit of help to give the man sitting on the side of the street.  In that moment, I realized.   I was not seeing.

I had missed him---this deeply sad man.  Entirely!  I hadn't even seen him there.  ...my feet only inches away and I didn't see.

We then headed to the underground subway and I just walked on.  Eyes forward, I moved carefully but with speed.  Very little thought really, I just walked forward.  Bustling and busy... the noises of this underground city were jarring to my senses.  I am not used to these crowds any more.

What used to be a normal, almost every day, way of transport has now become a bit overwhelming. The noises, the smells, the movement--- something that had been so normal before is now strange to me again.

The metro, the tube, the bus, the American mall, the Walmarts, whatever you call it, I shut down quite a bit in that context.  I guess I always have---even when I lived in LA, or Almaty, or Istanbul.  Always vigilantly aware of issues of safety and direction, yes; but, the rest of me dives deep within and takes a hide away---a internal retreat of sorts.

I am not the only one who shuts down.  We all seem to be awake and asleep at the same time.  Together and yet separate in the same dream.

Hundreds of people moved to get on these subways.  Hundreds.  We walked together, almost in one choreographed dance:  all moving together toward the same destination.  We entered together.  Then we moved together in this small machine underground... together.  And, yet very separate 

I don't look at you.  You don't look at me.  We are alone here--- just lots of us alone together.

And I begin to wonder.    I wonder, of course, as I carefully and surreptitiously steal a glance at the man sitting across from me. ...what are you thinking about, sir?

Certainly, I can't be so bold as to actually look at you in the face.  I have to pretend to not care.  ...not to see.

We all sit or stand and stare off into...  we are about our own business.  ...our own worlds.

What are we all looking at?  All in unity "not caring", not seeing and utterly unconcerned about each other.

But, strangely, I do care.  In one moment of time, one brief moment, I care.  I become aware of the fact that I am inhabiting the space together with other human souls.  Each one in this subway is loved by Almighty God and offered grace from his hand.  And I wonder.   I wonder what you, young man, might feel or think?  I wonder if you, old Asian woman, know you are loved?  You, beautiful tired African woman, what is your story?  

Strangers.  All strangers together and so very separate.

Not a big city problem, to be sure--- I do it in my small town, too.  Sometimes I just don't see very well.

Help me to see with Your eyes, Lord.  What do you see?  What do you know and hear?  Open my eyes and keep me aware and awake...  Give me eyes to see You and Your world.  
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