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Noticing What We See Everyday

In a matter of hours this weekend, I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  It’s an incredible memoir of child neglect and chosen homelessness (on the part of her parents) and overcoming a heartbreaking childhood.  I was struck by Jeannette’s ability to show her parents tremendous grace throughout her writing.  I’m obviously a little late in getting to this book, but it’s still worth the read.  Here is a more elaborate review from the New York Times.

Rather than reviewing the book, I want to focus on one sentence that, although early in the book, kept creeping into my mind even after I was finished.  It happened when Lori, the oldest sister got glasses for the first time.  She says,

When the glasses were ready, we all went down to the optometrist.  The lenses were so thick they made Lori’s eyes look big and bugged out, like fish eyes.  She kept swiveling her head around and up and down.  
“What’s the matter?”  I asked.  Instead of answering, Lori ran outside.  I followed her.  She was standing in the parking lot, gazing in awe at the trees, the houses, and the office buildings behind them.
“You see that tree over there?”  she said, pointing at the sycamore tree about a hundred feet away.  I nodded.  
“I can not only see that tree, I can see the individual leaves on it.”  She looked at me triumphantly. “Can you see them?”
I nodded.
She didn’t seem to believe me. “The individual leaves? I mean, not just the branches but each little leaf?”
I nodded. Lori looked at me and then burst into tears.
On the way home, she kept seeing for the first time all these things that most everyone else had stopped noticing because they’d seen them every day.

I couldn’t help but think of what I/we may have stopped noticing because we see it/them every day:

our children’s fingers

the intricacies of a spiderweb

the beauty of wrinkles

the fascination of muscles and bones

pregnant women

an abused child

the homeless

starving somalians

soldiers at war

racism/classism

the grace of god

the unconditional love of god

the forgiveness of god

the broken body

the spilled blood

what was accomplished

what is being accomplished

what will be accomplished

Grace is not a rite to apathy.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  The wounded hands and feet and the pierced side are rites of activity and engagement.  Rites that when ascended upon us, cause us to notice even individual leaves.  What have you stopped noticing?

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tara Lewis #

    Thanks Suzanne, I really needed this today. I needed a reminder to start noticing the important things a little more.

    August 22, 2011
    • That one sentence was very eye-opening to me, Tara. I hope I start to take notice more, too.

      August 22, 2011
    • Tara, I just read this in your Facebook post and had to post it in the comments here. Beautiful! “I woke up this morning overwhelmed by all of the housework that I need to accomplish today. After reflecting on the message I heard at church yesterday from John 5 and after reading my friend Suzanne’s blog post, I was reminded to stop and notice the things that I see every day. Dirty dishes mean my family has food to eat, laundry to do means we have clothes to wear, toys on the floor mean I have joyful children.”

      August 22, 2011

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