Seeing with the Eyes of Giving Thanks

By November 17, 2022eleven:eleven

for all that has been, thank you. for all that is to come, yes! – dag hammerskjold

our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. — annie dillard

life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. – maya angelou

for where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be. – jesus

We see things differently. That’s the truth of it.

To some the arrival of Fall is a welcome season of change with brilliant colors, holiday festivities around the corner, and cooler temps to put the oppressive heat of the summer finally behind us (at least for a few months or so). To others, though, it might be a reminder of the coming longer nights, colder and darker days, and the difficult realities that the holidays can bring.

Or to one person, that framed photograph on the wall is just a picture of a wooden barn with an old rusty car in a field of grass beside it. To the photographer, it speaks to the mystery of past and future, held together by how one sees it all in the present.

We see things differently.

But the way we see the world really does determine how we live. Our vision of things often has much to do with the kind of relationships we seek, the job we take, and what we do with our spare time.

We may see certain people as just plain wrong (or worse, as enemies), and so we may also have our defenses up and our judgments loaded. And because of this “sight”, we may miss the redemptive possibilities of those people ever becoming a friend or, even better, a teacher about something we need to understand.

As long as we have a vision (a bias) of someone as being untrustworthy or a failure or “subpar”, we treat them that way and even come to expect certain behaviors from them. And we miss the redemptive potential of their present (and their future). This is true of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, as well. As long as we have a vision of ourselves and nature as being separate realities, we will treat the earth (and ourselves) as less than sacred.

The Jewish theologian and philosopher, Martin Buber, called this way of seeing as having an “I – It” relationship with the world — seeing nature, people, even ourselves, as objects rather than as reflections of what is holy in life. But he called this latter way of seeing, “I-Thou” – that of seeing God, the Holy, in all that is, and living in attentive wonder and awe with everyone and everything. It’s how the apostle Paul put it to the Jesus followers in Thessalonica in AD 48, “Be cheerful; pray without ceasing. Always gives thanks, no matter what happens. Life is holy, so live that way.”

How else could one live if everything is holy?

When people have a vision of Jesus as a kind of a “nightclub bouncer” — all about letting some folks into heaven and keeping others out because they don’t have the right belief or behavior or appearance — they continue in arrogance, lacking in forgiveness, and neglecting the most important aspect of all life — that of experiencing the humility and sacredness of unconditional love – living as if all life is holy.

Gratitude seems to be the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? A grace and gratitude which sees the redemptive possibilities in all moments is what seems to be the essence of God’s presence in the world. To look for that — and to have a vision for the redemptive — is to glimpse the bigger picture, I think. Heaven on earth. To touch the eternal at the heart of our most mundane, even tumultuous, moments and give thanks.

Can you remember a time when your breath was “taken away”, and you suddenly realized, “Oh wait, so this is what it means to be fully loved and connected by that love to everyone else, everything else?!” And then, feeling so deeply loved by life itself, you had to tell someone?

Sunday, November 20 @ 11:11 a.m.
eleven:eleven, downtown @ the Historic 512

Livestream

“stories of holy moments and giving thanks”
tom mcdermott & guests

celebrating our common table

with brad thompson and the band, and the music of
alanis morrisette, kenny loggins, and jason mraz.

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