Seeing Clearly

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef

All of my life I’ve had great vision, never needed glasses, and always breezed through the letter charts during eye tests. But in recent months I began to realize things were changing. I could no longer read text on the television when seated on the couch. Driving at night and when it was raining became extra difficult. And in one embarrassing episode, while dropping my son off at a birthday party, I told him, “Read me the house addresses, because I can’t see them!”

So it was a relief when I finally set up an appointment, got my eyes checked, and had it confirmed: “You need glasses.” Apparently my vision was “just barely” good enough for me to drive legally.

When I walked out of the eye clinic wearing my new glasses for the first time, and pulled my car onto the road, I was stunned at the clarity. Wow. Everything was suddenly in high definition! The level of detail I could suddenly see was almost overwhelming. Everything was interesting: “Ooh, never noticed that pizza shop, might have to check it out. Does Wendy’s have a new logo? That’s a great-looking sign. The grass is really getting green. And ouch, looks like gas is nearly $3 a gallon.” It was better to be in the dark about that last point.

Suddenly I could see! The most gratifying experience in the one week that I’ve now worn glasses is that I could see my son clearly at his sixth grade band concert. He plays the drums and is always in the very back. In previous concerts I’ve perceived him as a blur—I could identify him by his height, or lack thereof, and the shape of his head. But now I could see his facial expressions and movements! It was a real delight. It also didn’t hurt that the drums seemed to carry the show. (Parental bias, no doubt.)

I have this feeling that my spiritual practice of silence and contemplation has a similar effect on providing clarity for the inner life. When I am still, what is unsettled and stirred up in me has a chance to rest, to settle, so that I can see not only those things, but everything else more clearly.

When I don’t take that time, the deeper things become blurry, and I can race through life without being fully present to each moment, and to the people in my life. The Psalmist, in Psalm 119 says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your torah (or teaching).” When we are still in the presence of the Holy One, our ability to see, even as our physical eyes may be closed—expands.

I am grateful that my new glasses allow me to see much more detail in God’s incredible and beautiful creation, not to mention make me a safer driver. I long for my spiritual practices to also give me greater sight, and make me a more loving, compassionate, fully present human being.

April 04, 2019 by Bryan Berghoef
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