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?”
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
an abused child
soldiers at war
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?