Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Looking and Seeing

As Barbara Brown Taylor explores her own personal darkness in her book, crawls down into the deep recesses of an underground cave, and then experiences the world of the blind, I began to realize how easy it is to look but not really see.  As she writes about the difference in her book, "Learning to Walk in the Dark," she describes how looking  at a wooden table is different than taking the time to see it.  To look is to see it as oak or pine and one that seats eight. But, to see is to close the eyes and experience its surface with fingers that reveal nicks, wax spots, texture, grain, and even spots once damaged and now repaired.  Taking time to see means paying attention in a way our hurried looking does not.  In the same manner, we look and say, "It's a tree!" without seeing the vine creeping up its trunk, or the holes of drilling woodpeckers, or the diseased leaves, or the scurrying bugs hurrying from one place to another. We look, but do not always see.  We are not really paying attention to what are our eyes behold.

Surely, the Kingdom of God belong to those who are not only looking for it, but who have eyes to see.  Jesus spoke of the Kingdom as something near, something at hand, something within you, but we seldom see or experience it in such a way.  From time to time as we are in the presence of some act of grace filled with kindness, or when we hear of an extraordinary act of forgiveness, we might say, "Ah, there...there is the Kingdom of God,"  but mostly we just look and do not see.  If paying attention is a pre-requisite for seeing what is mostly missed, most of us must confess to a seeing that speaks more of acknowledgement than real recognition.

If the Kingdom of God is really in our midst as Jesus tells us it is, we can only wonder if we are really paying attention to the way it can be experienced, felt, smelled, and breathed.  The Kingdom of God is a spiritual dimension present midst the present physical dimension so easily seen.  God obviously uses the physical as a means of revealing the spiritual, but we must pay attention if we are to really see.  Otherwise, we will surely continue walking in the darkness known by men and women like us who have eyes and hearts to see, but move through life as those who are blind.

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