The ability to see is precious. Were we to be deprived of our eyesight a rich dimension of life colour, light, form, variety and beauty would be lost. The formation, structure and function of the eyes of the body is a miracle we take for granted. To look and see gives us the visual capacity for freedom of movement either to avoid obstacles or revel in the surrounding wonders of creation.
Another form of seeing comes through the eyes of the mind. Imagination and vision being our means of seeing something invisible to the naked eye. A spoken or written word can convey a vivid picture to the imagination. It can be sacramental – creating a church garden. Einstein regarded imagination as one of life’s greatest gifts. Amazing achievements, like flight in space; good and bad politics, physical feats and Disney World were first imagined. I am always impressed with those who when looking at a bare plot of ground can visualize a garden landscape, or entering an empty house can visualize its appearance transformed through furnishings and décor. In complete contrast Hollywood engages the eyes of the mind to conjure up scenes of fantasy or specters of spine chilling horror. Psychology and scripture confirm the visual capacity of the mind can, by means of positive images, promote our physical, emotional and mental health.
When writing to the Christians in Ephesus the apostle Paul writes, ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened’. He has a specific purpose in doing so, ‘in order that you may know the hope to which he (Christ) has called them, the riches of his glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of his power, as confirmed in his resurrection.’ Eugene Peterson translating it into modern idiom writes ‘to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Christ personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.’
Ephesus was a very busy city, there was much to see and many activities to attract their attention. We today we can be dazzled, allured, tempted, seduced and provoked by all manner of attractions that use the ‘eye-gate’ to catch our attention and influence our lifestyle. When our eyes are enlightened we learn how to see. We begin to see the need for nondual thinking. In Jesus we see that life becomes meaningful when we love and trust God, and his way of non-violence is the path to peace. We see God is beyond us, but with us, around us yet within, showing up in simple acts of kindness and justice, moments of wonder and beauty. We see the environmental crisis is an ethical and moral one, the natural sacredness of the earth, its living composition sustaining a myriad creatures, the complexity and order in infinite space and much, much more. Teilhard de Chardin said, ‘Christ has a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe’. Sally McFague writes ’God’s love is the power that moves the galaxies and breathes in our bodies’.
Jesus looked at life, nature and people with enlightened eyes of the heart. Some of what he saw is described in the Beatitudes – so upside down to what we normally see! Read the gospels with the heart and he steps off the page to become a personal reality. One of our Methodist ministers who taught university students, it was said of him, “Where others saw only ducks, he saw swans”. He was a scholarly man steeped in scripture and Methodist practice who, with enlightened eyes, saw the potential in his students as sacred.
Tears may come to the eyes of the heart; when that happens vision becomes temporarily blurred. You can no longer see clearly. Isn’t this what happened to Mary in the garden of the Resurrection? She went there with a broken heart by the loss of one she wanted to touch again. Her tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy when Jesus spoke her name. We sometimes cry inside. There’s no blood, no visible wound, but the heart has a pain no tablet can ease. Tears become a means of expressing what we cannot put into words, not only on a sad occasion, but also on a joyous one.
Let’s pray for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened and no doubt we will be surprised by what we begin to see. We will have enough light to see the truth in paradox, meaning in life and resources of power available through faith. New realizations will come and we will see a little more of God and of Christ in the world and in each other.