“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is clear, your whole body will be filled with light.”
A Word of Hope
On August 12, 2017, Brian McLaren was standing on a corner in front of a Methodist church in a quiet neighborhood. Suddenly a white van pulled up and a man about his age in army fatigues stepped out. The side door slid open and 9 young men in khaki pants and sports shirts emerged. They unfurled flags and began to march behind the older man. Then another van pulled up and the same thing happened, then another and another.
The flags ranged from the Confederate flag to the Don’t Tread on Me flag to the Nazi swastika. McLaren registers his shock and dismay: Never had he imagined seeing people march behind the Nazi flag in America.
The activist pastor and author had travelled to Charlottesville that day as part of a multifaith clergy group who came to be witnesses during the Unite the Right rally—a rally which would leave Heather Hyer dead, purposely run down by a car, a violent act celebrated on social media by the organizers of the march.
McLaren tells us that at a visceral level he cannot “unsee,” this experience which taught him that though we may live in the same country or city or even under the same roof, we live different realities.
He saw the marchers as deluded white supremacists, blinded by white nationalist propaganda and shaped by Fox news. They saw him as a naïve, idealistic, and deluded clergyman standing in the way of their achieving racial dominance.
So, the question is how do we learn to see what’s really there? How can we open our eyes to each other? https://cac.org/podcast/learning-how-to-see/
Jesus talked a good bit about sight. He told the disciples that he spoke in parables because they had eyes but did not see and ears but did not hear. He told us to take the log out of our own eye before attending to the splinter in our neighbor. He healed blindness—physical and spiritual.
In a recent sermon, Bishop Michael Curry passionately exhorts us to love as Jesus loved as a healing balm for our nation. But our ability to love is impacted by our vision. How I “see” the young African American man jogging in my neighborhood impacts the way I feel and respond. Recently, some people have been able to see a little differently because of the emotional and honest expression of CNN commentator Van Jones who spoke of what the election of Joe Biden as president means to him as an African American father. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2020/nov/07/cnn-van-jones-tears-joe-biden-us-election
A few days ago an esteemed therapist offered an insight to healing family and national divisions: to go “underneath” the content to try to perceive the feelings, values, aspirations of the other. Jesus’s healing Jesus derives in part because he saw those who came—not as “sinners” but as God’s children. May we learn to do so as well.
Holy Physician, Heal our vision so that our whole body may be filled with light and love. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon