I’ve been sketching and doodling quite a lot. It’s become my way of journaling now. Doodling (really, that new thing called Zentangling) is a practice for drawing myself into contemplative mindfulness. Sketching, on the other hand, is a way to help me engage more fully with the exterior world.
I have very poor visual memory – always have had – which I think comes partly from my nature/personality (I’m a high intuitive, low sensate on the Meyers Briggs inventory) and partly from early childhood experiences that increased my inwardness. Whatever the reason, I live most of my life internally. I pray mostly with my eyes closed, finding God in the dark interior and in the spaces between and beyond things and people. But I know that the Holy is winking at me from the very things I tend not to notice, so I wish I saw the outer world more clearly. I wish I could more often notice and more fully appreciate the beauty that is lying in wait in every ordinary thing. So I‘m trying to train my eyes to see.
Sometimes, of course, I do notice the vividness of earth and sky or little details of a person’s face or gestures. It isn’t that I never see. But most of the time I skate through the world instead of being fully in it. Oddly enough, I think that’s why I’m so drawn to beautiful things – sunsets, brilliant colors, flowers, tiny delicate seashells, quick wild animals, paintings and sculptures: they grab me, wake me up and move something deep in me that most of the time goes missing. When accosted by beauty I’m moved to pause, engage, and connect.
I’ve thought a lot about “seeing” over the years. Seeing clearly, seeing what’s really there and not what we imagine or only want to see. Seeing other people as whole people apart from us, not as a projection of ourselves. Seeing with compassion and humility, without judgment. Recognizing what we see. Giving the world more than a sideways glance.
Once Jesus asked his host at dinner, who was scorning him and the woman who wept at his feet, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7.44) … Once he asked the crowds around him what they had come out to the wilderness to see (Matt. 11.7) …. To his followers he once said: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see” (Matt. 13.16), but on another occasion he asked them, “Do you have eyes and fail to see?” (Mark 8.18).
How we see, and whether we really see the world around us, is important. I suspect that, though some may see more than I do, most of us could use some training in seeing well. So I’m trying to train my eyes to see. When I draw my amateur’s sketch and actually make some connection in it to the creature or thing I’m looking at, I LOVE that feeling. But I need to remind myself that gazing with attention and love is its own reward, and I need to be sure not to love the sketch I’ve made more than the person or creature in front of me.
Blessings to you. May our eyes and our hearts be wise and wide open today.