Eyes to See

Last October I mentioned speaking on the topic of Christian growth through study, and the suggestion I made to the ladies at the retreat that some of the most important things we can “study” are the sermons we hear on Sunday. Our pastors are dedicated to prayer and study in preparation for the messages the Lord has for us each week – messages that are intended to make a difference in how we think and therefore live – and that requires reflection.

Recently our pastor challenged us with the question: “Are we just looking or are we “seeing” – like Christ in Matthew 9:35-38, who saw the needs of those around Him? Two perspectives on “seeing” have come to me as I have meditated on that question, the passage from Matthew, and the excellent points our pastor made in his message.

As I have mentioned before, photography is a tool God has used to teach me to “see”. Despite the images I post here, here, and here, Pollywog Creek is not paradise. In fact, it might surprise you to know that when we moved here twenty years ago, I could not have been more unhappy about living here. I was not at all impressed with either the critter inhabited creek and woods or the nearby neighborhoods of migrant laborers that frequently serenaded us with loud and undesirable music. I wanted to live in a “real” town with neighborhoods and sidewalks where I could stroll my babies and parks to take them to play – not a community without sidewalks where chickens and roosters freely roamed the streets and the nearest playground was in a town 45 minutes away. I wanted friendly neighbors, who were English speaking stay-at-home moms, and access to cultural events – not trailer parks crowded with migrant laborers and an annual festival queen pageant as the only family-friendly form of entertainment.

Though it is far from perfect and our neighborhood and neighbors have not changed, I have grown to love my home and this place on Pollywog Creek. The walls could definitely use a fresh coat of paint and the flooring leaves much to be desired. The window coverings are barely adequate and the furniture is an eclectic assortment of family heirlooms, hand-me-downs, and whatever we could afford at the time, but I no longer drool over glossy magazines and catalogs – wishing my home could resemble the images portrayed within the covers.

Finding contentment here has not come easily, but it is where I have raised my children and cared for my mother and discovered immeasurable beauty in the ordinary tasks of doing so. The first perspective I have reflected on this week is that it took far too many years for me to “see” that instead of vainly attempting to surround my life with beauty, God wanted me to see the beauty He had already placed in my surroundings.

The second perspective I’ve pondered is that if I am to walk in the way of Christ, finding or creating beauty cannot be my focus. In photography, even without image editing software, I can crop out the ugliness that would diminish the beauty of a flower, or angle the shot to keep what is unlovely outside the picture frame. To see rightly with a heart of compassion, I must lay my camera aside and open my eyes to not only beauty, but the ugly reality of pain and brokenness in the places I have been called to walk as Christ walked.

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