How do you see?

I like paying attention. I’ve talked about attentiveness before, but there is something about observing one’s surroundings, soaking in the sights and sounds, observing the complex intersection of lives on so many levels. To notice how so many tiny details collide and create communities and cultures can be profound to observe as it unfolds in any given moment.

Interestingly, however, is as I cultivate my attentiveness, I develop a new level of self-awareness. And I don’t always like what I find. For example, as I observe people around me, my default judgements aren’t always pretty. Labels and assumptions can quickly begin directing my observation. This was illustrated in this ad I saw this week (see below)

The caption challenged me to a new level of observation. Where I often look at what I see around me, I’m realizing I also need to assess how see. Is my default to see through a lens of judgement? Selfishness? Or compassion?

Next time you take a walk, look around. What do you see? But then observe, how do you see?

Or has Jesus taught,

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
   you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
   they hardly hear with their ears,
   and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
   hear with their ears,
   understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
(Mt. 13:14-17)

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