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Take Another Look

Spring, as you will be aware if you've read my previous posts, is my favorite time of the year—well, maybe more than spring itself, the forerunner of spring as the gray winter’s days become slightly longer and lighter.

What, you may be wondering, does the coming of spring have to do with spiritual practices? I would like to suggest it is the practice of noticing, and then stopping to take a second look, and then pausing to really look; to marvel; to see beyond physical sight to the wonder that lies beneath what you're seeing; to be curious about what may be happening that is not obvious.

I look at my favorite spring flowers, the daffodils; how quickly they seem to unfold from the first sign of buds to the beautiful bright yellow flowers. Then, of course, the weather changes; we even have snow followed by days of “wintery mix.” My daffodils' heads are bowed, but not broken. And I know they will lift again as the sun shines on them. As I look and look again, I marvel at the Creator behind this transformation from ugly, brown bulbs hidden in the ground; there is an inbuilt intuition that prompts the process, the “owner’s instructions”! Sit with this for a moment. Do you sense the mystery here?

I wonder how often we race or wander through our days, lost in our thoughts, without paying attention to what is going on around us. Have you ever driven a familiar route and suddenly realized you have arrived, and you have no memory of the drive?  How can we bring intentionality into our lives? Will it make a difference?

I walk my dog in the neighborhood and notice that someone has not picked up after their dog. I take a second look and realize I have a spare poop bag, and I can pick up the mess. No one sees, except the Father, whom Jesus tells us, sees in secret!

I pick up some books from the library and, as I leave, I notice a girl with an armload of books trying to open the drawer to return the books. I hurry to help her, and together we manage to get all the books safely in. She says thank you, and then, as she climbs into her car, calls out thanks again with a wave, and I wave back. And we go our separate ways. Did it matter? Who knows? I know that I felt blessed.

Does this remind you of the parable that we call “The good Samaritan”? Are we caught in looking for the big important things to do? Do these little things matter? Does my life matter, even when it doesn’t seem filled with great significance?

 I wonder what it is in your life at present that could take another look. Is it to look again deeply into your loved one’s eyes, and marvel at who he/she is? Is it the second look, and the pause to wonder, as your teenager rages about some injustice? Is it to listen thoughtfully, to hear what is behind the spoken words? Is it some disappointment or some unfulfilled dream? What happens when you take that second look, when you pause to wonder beyond what looks obvious?

I wonder if you will find that there are gifts, even during the darkest times; that grief and gratitude are present together in many situations. Will you ask God to open your eyes to see again, to see with His eyes, and to change how you are responding to your life?

As I write these words and wrestle with these ideas, I think again of how many words I have shared in past blogs that are part of this: intentionality, living with purpose, being present, being awake, alert, aware, recognizing the sacred in everything. Can we learn to surrender to the gifts of the day—to trust that even when it snows and rains on our hopes and dreams, that God is present, that this moment has meaning?

Easter is coming, and the focus turns to our Savior, who determined that “He must resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). This is our Jesus, who walked through His life with purpose and intent, who shared with us that the greatest commandments (that summed up everything) were to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That self is you! That neighbor is the whosoevers come your way today. Will you take that second look and be a blessing and know that God is present with you as you do so?

You matter. Your life matters. Your neighbor is waiting for that blessing.

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