When I was an adolescent, I collected all kinds of poems and quotes and such. My first journal was even named the “Jot Down Junk Book”. (Hey, I was 14!) I still remember the text of one that spoke of living in the now. The author began “I hope it rains – I’ll walk in it and get soaked”, and went on to speak of living life and experiencing what was actually happening in a moment. She/He said, “I see with new eyes, hear with childlike ears, and all about me is filled with joy and wonder.” And the author lamented the time lost while asleep in the moments of life, but even that was washed away in the fullness and beauty of now.
Annie Dillard, whose image of tatters of clearness subtitles this blog, also wrote about learning to walk with your eyes open. She described the difference between walking with a camera, ready to see through the view what one would capture, versus walking seeing the expanse. Her words are the reason I take very many less pictures now of nature than I once did. I find the lens cannot capture the horizon, and that the fullness cannot fit into digital or (my preferred) 35mm memory-color-shape holder. The picture that I see has so much more to do with breadth and depth than shape and limits and boundaries.
Today, I like the thought of having new eyes. It is just the beginning of spring here in the mid-Atlantic. There are two and three inches of stems of spring flowers on the slope outside my home. I’ve spotted three robins so far. They are my favorite birds, signs of hope and life. And Ash Wednesday is two days hence.
What happens if we see with new eyes, with poets’ eyes, with artists’ eyes, with Jesus’ eyes – who was parable maker and story teller? What small things might you or I encounter today that we otherwise wouldn’t notice? What expanse of night sky outside our own homes or workplaces that is always there? What ordinary blade of grass? What joy and childlike wonder are we invited to? And what stretching of our viewfinders might this season – of spring and Lent – invite us to? Aren’t invitations all around us, if we would but see?
I do not know what we might each find. But I treasure the passion of the adolescent young woman who loved the idea of walking in the rain and living in the now. And I trust that there are always new invitations to see and to stretch, and to live from a vision we register for an instant, yet know is real. May we all see with new eyes, hear with childlike ears, know joy and wonder, lament time when we are on autopilot (asleep) and let even that regret wash away in the fullness of now — in the sacrament of this present moment (a la de Caussade).