I need my reading glasses more and more these days. And I don’t like it. Of course I get no sympathy from my family, most of whom have worn glasses for years. You see, when I was little I had no idea that my eyesight was good. I figured we all saw the same. But then I learned otherwise. I got used to seeing things that others couldn’t. I could call out freeway exit signs way ahead of time. I could tell not only what make and model of plane was flying overhead, but what airline was flying it. From what I hear I acted annoying and superior, as though my eyesight made me a better person.
I have a theory that much of what we think of as wrong in this world is the result of a failure of vision more than of ethics or morality. It isn’t eyesight, exactly, but something like it, that leads us into trouble. Often we don’t see the same things as someone else. So our solution to the problem we see is entirely different from their solution to the problem they see. We think it’s the same problem, but it’s really not. One person sees a promiscuous teenager, whose pregnancy is the obvious result of their actions. Another sees a child neglected by parents, marginalized by peers, seeking connection in a series of unhealthy relationships. How we see the issue in the first place shapes everything that comes after. I remember being mad at some idiot who was driving too slowly in the wrong lane. When I got past them I recognized a dear friend in the mirror. It changed everything. When my vision improved, so did my attitude, and my actions.
So Lent is with us, an opportunity to look at ourselves and others with new lenses. I want to see more clearly, more graciously and generously, the lives of those who bless my life. I want my vision to improve, not so I can hold it over others, but so I can understand and appreciate the world as it actually is. I don’t want to miss the grace at work all around me. In the midst of busyness, distraction, anxiety (or worse!), Lent invites us to see the mystery of self-giving love as it unfolds, right before our very eyes. Thank you to those in our congregation and community who help each other to see God’s grace more clearly. You offer encouragement beyond what you would ever know.