Friday, April 25, 2014

Unseeing Eyes

For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before?  What if I knew I would never see it again?"  ― Rachel Carson

I remember a time, many years ago, when my friend Karen and I took a walk together. We were students at Bryan College in Tennessee, and we had just had dinner in the dining hall.

It was a lovely, fragrant evening in spring. “I want to show you something,” Karen said, pointing to the budding leaves on the trees and bushes. “They weren’t here two weeks ago, and now, here they are. Where did they come from?”

I had never thought about it before. Leaves  they simply appear each year, as if pulled from a hat by a magician, as if rising from the phoenix ashes of autumn leaf piles.

That night my friend helped me to look with holy awe at the heretofore humdrum, the leaves in spring.

Then in my junior year, Mrs. Bentley, my teacher in an art history class, made an off-handed comment about how she was amazed by all the shades of green in the spring. And again, my eyes were opened. 

I guess that before that day, if you had asked me the color of the leaves, I would have said "Green. Duh." Suddenly I saw that leaves are a zillion different colors.

Though I am not an artist, I was inspired to do a watercolor painting of the trees with many shades of green. I was delighted at the way water colors can run together to capture a small spectrum of  nature’s palette. 

And I saw that painting is another way of seeing, and we non-artists of the world should do it more often. It's not about whether Mom would hang your picture on the frig. It's about what you see and feel while you're committing the act of creation.

Another revelation came my senior year, once again in spring — this time on a rainy day. I wasn't a fan of rainy days. Rain made my hair and my heart go blah. But I suddenly saw that the gray of the skies made the new green of the spring leaves glow like cat eyes in the dark. All the colors of the season popped against the gray. And suddenly I was hooked — on rainy days and the beauties they reveal to our eyes.

Leaf buds. Shades of green. Gray skies. It’s funny the things we actually remember from school, the things that comprise our real education.

I think that most of us are born blind. We need help to peel back the scales that keep us from truly seeing. I am grateful for the Wise Ones God continually puts in my life to help me see more clearly — friends, teachers, artists, poets, writers, children with disabilities, people of other races and cultures, laughing babies and wry great-grandmothers, and even voices that speak from beyond the grave, from ages past.

Many springs have passed since that night I took a walk with a friend, and I still don’t know where the leaves come from. Something from nothing, life from death — right before our eyes. It’s magic. It’s a miracle. It’s a mystery.

But though I can’t understand it, at least now I can see it. That is a great gift — and cause for celebration.


  1. How very, very true! Thanks for opening my eyes this morning, friend!

  2. Oh I remember that walk dear friend! I think of you every spring when the leaves unfurl! :)