by Jake Hall
published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 3/13/14
I have always loved that hazy time that comes twice a day just before the sun rises and just before the sun sets. The world seems, in every respect, “in between.” Your street takes on a new character as the bright light of day dims. Your eyes adjust and you have to squint to see shapes in the distance. As a child, I loved spotting “lightening bugs,” as they pierced the evening shade. There seems to be a greater sense of mystery in the world during these liminal moments.
Lent lends us liminal space, as we tell the story of Jesus in the time between the bright light of the Transfiguration and the beaming dawn of Easter. Lent allows us to see the world in a different light, or should I say that it allows us to see the world in a different dark. Lent invites us to look, squint, peer, and stare into the world and discern the cruciform shapes found out there in the night.
At some point we adults grow up and see the world with mature eyes. We see objectively, pragmatically...we become realists. Jonathan Hale offers a reminder for recovering a childlike sense of wonder in these moments in this book, The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How To Get It Back). Wouldn’t it be nice to recapture that sense of wonder about the world?
Hale writes: After a certain age, a child tends to stop seeing just what is in front of him — the shadows, the colors — and starts instead to see what they signify. It is no longer a lovely blue-and-white shape with white speckles on it, it is [a sign:] “Rest Area This Way.”
But it is a lovely blue, isn't it? Must we have it one way or the other, practical information or intuitive vision? Must the intuitive experience be childish? It is my memory of how I saw when I was five years old. But it is not childhood that I want, it is the visual experience that I remember from childhood.
Recovering this sense of wonder remains the task of sober-eyed realists. Maybe this is how we come to the Kingdom as children. May we rest our eyes and gain a sense of vision during this season.