(I know – two days behind. I’ll catch up this week – really!)
You know what’s easy? To see what everyone else is doing wrong. I know, I know, that’s so cliché – look for your faults, not your neighbour’s, and all that. And we all know it. And we all work hard to live by the principle of examining our own faults rather than looking at others – and we all fail miserably. (If you have been successful, and truly find your own flaws the easiest to find, please write me – we’ll chat and I’m certain I’ll learn something and so will you.) Of course anger totally blocks our vision in this case – that’s why it’s called ‘seeing red’ – at first you can’t see anything but the anger, and everything else, even when it becomes possible to see it, is only seen through that red haze.
Anger totally blocks our ability to see clearly then – what else? Fear. If I’m scared it’s all going to go wrong, I might shy away from any responsibility in the matter at hand. I will avoid embarrassment, and the easiest way to do that is not to see. “Why isn’t that spill cleaned up? I don’t know, I never saw it.” But did I look? Probably not.
So what am I supposed to do? How can I see what the world holds? This is made harder yet because I believe that what we see with our eyes is just part of the surface stuff we all agree is there. It’s easy to believe that the inconsequentialities, the little details of everyday life are all that is. That’s not what I want to see.
Here is my deepest desire – my goal. When I look at people, I want to see God shining through. They are all made in the image of God, after all, and that’s what I want to see in them. That doesn’t mean blinding my eyes to areas of difficulty in a relationship – boundaries are a thing – but it does mean that I remember that those difficulties don’t define the person I’m looking at or the relationship between us. They are difficulties because no one is perfect and we are all learning – and they may cover the divine within us, but they don’t obliterate it.
When I look at the world, I want to see God shining through. I want to see the beautiful spaces under the mess, because when I see them, I’m inspired to clean up the mess and let the beauty shine through. I want to see what God put there for me to care about, whether that be plants or animals, floors or even dishes. I want to do that care in the spirit of love that doing God work can bring.
When I look at myself, I want to see God shining through. I know that I too was made in God’s image. I want to look without fear or embarrassment, and in this case, to see the blemishes that hide Godliness as something for me to work on. I want to like myself, not by ignoring my faults through fear and anger, but by accepting them as one of my imperfections that I work on to bring that God image out.
It’s the same in all three cases. It’s the same as I wrote about hearing. It’s the same as I wrote about Shabbat. It’s going to be the same this whole Elul I think. (OK, God – I can see you’re being very firm about this one!) I need to pay attention. I need to be mindful. I need to up, up, up the activities I take for mindfulness, whatever they may be and to accept what I hear and see when I really look and listen.