Monday of this week found me at the ophthalmologist’s office for my annual eye exam; that evening when I opened my journal to write, this Henry Miller quote graced the page:
“…One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things...”
The combination of questions about how many progressively smaller lines of type I could read, the dilation of my eyes (and the hours of blurry vision that followed) and Miller’s words have had me thinking about seeing – how I see, what I see, what I don’t – ever since.
When I relocated in 2015, it was to a different part of the world. I not only had to learn my way around a new city and state, I’ve had to acclimate myself to seeing things that had never been part of my existence before: Palm trees. Armadillos and alligators. Hurricanes. Television ads for the local Maserati dealer. Topping this week’s list of Things I’ve Never Seen Before are the Ford’s Garage restaurant that just opened here (there are only ten – nine in Florida and one in Dearborn, Michigan), and my neighbor’s social media ad for a Magician’s Assistant, complete with height and weight requirements and photos of his Saw In Half and Zig Zag illusion boxes. (If you’re interested, and you’re going to be in Florida for an extended period of time, I can put you in touch with him…)
The city I live in is the size of the state capital where I previously lived and is within 30-40 miles of two major metropolitan areas each the size of Chicago. Because of its proximity to those places, it is growing exponentially. Things change much faster here than where I used to live and there are new things springing up every week. Because of that I’ve learned to look at things with a greater degree of openness and curiosity that I previously did.
Most things. But not everything. As dug deeper into those ‘how and what I see' questions and looked back over the past few months I noticed that I haven’t viewed my journey “through the valley of the shadow” that way. I’ve eyed it with grim resignation; as something I had to “get through”. I’ve surveyed it with fear and trepidation, afraid I’ll be completely overwhelmed by it. I’ve “put up with it” the same way we tolerate all the difficult and challenging things and people in our lives that we can’t, for a thousand different complicated reasons, completely ignore or write off, doing my best to limit exposure and engagement. I’ve “stuffed the feelings” (as my dear friend Carol so aptly describes it) or tried to.
I’ve managed to embrace pieces of it here and there, but not the whole of it.
I wonder what would happen if I did.
What else might I learn about myself if I was willing to look at this part of my life with the same level of openness and curiosity with which I embark on a drive across town to visit a new quilt shop or restaurant?
What if instead of worrying about “getting carried away” I allowed myself to experience “all the feels”?
Instead of shying away from the brokenness (that feels like weakness and pain) what if I turn and face it, picking up the pieces of my life as they come, acknowledging, attending to, and laying whatever is there on the altar of Grace?
Might there be healing there?
Prompted by the hope I found in Jan Richardson’s words, I’m going to look and see.
“…I know the medicine
that lives in a story
that has been broken open.
the healing that comes
to hide ourselves away
with fingers clutched
around the fragments
we think are
none but ours…”
Copyright 2016 by Jan Richardson, Wanton Gospeller Press, Orlando Florida. The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief, p. 113. Used with permission.
How do you tend to look at life? With unbridled curiosity? Great expectations? Cautious optimism? A wait and see attitude? Fear and anxiety? Avoidance? Faith and hope? A combination of these, depending on the circumstances?
Are there any areas in your life where you might need or want to change the way you look at things?
May your vision be clear, your heart open, and may the grace of God sustain you in all things this day.