April 30, 2017 – Easter, 3rd Sunday of
Letters Home (from a retired pastor to his family, the Church)
I received a surprise last year during an eye exam. To this point I have been blessed with good vision. That is, as long as wearing glasses for the last 30 years qualifies for “good.” During that part of the exam when you are supposed to watch for little squiggly lines, and push a button when one appears, the technician giving me the exam excused herself. Before I knew it I was in my Doctor’s office discussing the early signs of macular degeneration. Naturally, once I left his office I began a little research.
Along the way I learned that every human eye comes fully equipped with its very own blind spot. This void in our field of vision lies toward the center in the eye of an infant, the most ancient of seniors, and everyone in between. The amazing thing is that we do not notice this. Our minds have the ability to take information around that spot, extrapolate, and then perceive as seeing what is present. As Dr. Ellyn Kaschak wrote in Psychology Today, “A human paradox, each of us see where we cannot and do not.” Even more amazingly, we base our lives and actions on what we believe we have seen. More often than not, this works out for us.
We have often heard it said that “seeing is believing.” Yet as I type this I am reminded of how often this has not been true for me. I remember the first time I watched a sunrise on the North Slope, above the Arctic Circle. It began as a vertical pillar of yellow light, like the world’s tallest skyscraper. I knew what I saw was not what it seemed. So I waited, and in a few moments the sun burst above the horizon.
When I reflect on the fact that our minds always compensate for the hole in our vision I am reminded of another saying, “believing is seeing.” The ability to believe something enables us to “see” and seek what others might never imagine. I have friends who consider themselves scientists above all else. There are fundamental assumptions or beliefs that enable them to do their work. They assume the universe and matter are structured in a way that can ultimately be understood. This cognitive belief enables them to seek and recognize amazing things through the scientific method.
Believing is seeing, or put in another way, believing enables seeing. This is the foundation of the worldview of those who walk by faith. This type of faith works a great deal like the dynamic between the hole in our vision and our mind’s ability to complete the picture. What informs the completion of that picture is the life experiences of the people of faith. They have found that the world is complete only with the God of All Creation in their field of vision. It is then that they are able to “see” what remains unseen to the naked eye.
Those of us who have been blessed to live in the developed world live in a world in which the eyes of faith seem to be losing relevance. Our lives are filled to overflowing with electronic wonders, experiences that satisfy and delight us, and businesses vying to satisfy our every whim. Our lives are sated. But for many of us something remains missing, and we can not see what that might be. It’s a mystery.
I am personally thankful for the holes in my vision. They enable me to be open to the mystery that surrounds us at every turn. Not all things are visible to the human eye. As others dwell in a world of tangible certainties, people of faith live in a larger reality. It is through faith we are able to see the hand of God and Christ at work in the world and the lives around us. It is through the power of faith that we are enabled to see wonders. Cleopas and his friend found this to be true at the end of the road to Emmaus.
Third Sunday of Easter:
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 224)