Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sight

I recently was asked to write this article for Tulips and Mudd, a beautiful blog created by Lisanne Lee. It was good to write again, a little terrifying to put it out there, but wonderful to share a part of myself again...
"Sight"
I read a book recently about a man named George Ritchie who died when he was twenty years old at an army camp. For nine minutes he “existed” outside of his body, which he could see laying still in his bed. At first he didn’t believe it and tried to get the attention of people around him, asking questions in desperation to figure out what was going on. But he quickly realized that those people couldn’t see him, couldn’t feel him grasping their shoulders and pleading for help. When he came back to life and recovered from his illness, he remembered what it felt like to be unseen, unanswered, and invisible. He determined to try for the rest of his life to not only see the people around him, but also pay attention to what they were trying to say withoutwords. He tried to see beyond their humanness and see the good, the light, and the stories within them. This, he said, changed the rest of his life.
What if we could read the invisible signs people are holding as they walk into work, drop their kids off at school, or stand in line at the grocery store? “Lonely.” “Dieting.” “Infertility sucks.” What if our hearts threw words up into the air above our heads, like a mental projector and suddenly we could see all those things that we can’t see? My husband works with a man whose wife is dying of cancer. I think of her, crossing paths with people every day who have no idea what is going on inside her heart and her mind, as she spends her last few months with her husband and three young boys.  I wonder how differently I would treat the people around me if I could see not only their facial expressions but the chapter headings of their adolescence or scribbled notes on the margins of their adulthood. What if feelings were transferable in a handshake or a hug?
As a mother, I study my children. At times, they are an open book, with legible emotions and dog-eared corners that show clearly what they think and feel. Other times they are sealed shut and locked down, their feelings tucked away, their moods illegible. Parenthood is a lot like creating a story or painting a picture that slowly takes on a life of its own.  Just when you think you understand the beginning, the middle, and the end, a new chapter appears and you find yourself staring at a wondrous mystery. 
Learning to love my children has taught me to see people around me differently. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to be loved, me included.  Sometimes all we know about someone is in a scroll of 3x3 squares that we “like” or “comment” upon, but there is so much that we don’t  (and can’t) see beyond that. There are buried chapters, paragraphs that don’t fit in, forewords and epilogues and second endings. There is no way to see or understand it all, but I believe each of us carry a fistful of pages in hand each day, hoping to be—in some way—understood, accepted, and loved for what we are.  When he died in that army hospital, George Ritchie realized that all the love and acceptance we could ever want as human beings is available to us if we just open our eyes to it. He said, “If I wanted to feel the nearness of Christ—and I did want that, above everything else—I would have to find it in the people that He put before me each day.” 
I will have been many places, seen countless things, and met hundreds of thousands of people by the end of my life. But I do believe that what will carry the most weight is how I made people feel. If next to me, as my loved one or friend, neighbor or stranger on the bus, they felt seen, answered, and loved. 


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2 comments :

  1. You express yourself in words so well!! Love your post and love you!

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