friendship · Life

On Seeing

Dear Kim,

So much for writing every day for a month. See how I am? My last draft was January 21 and I called it “Catching Up.” I planned to cram all the missed prompts into one post. Meanwhile, prompts kept piling up like unopened mail. Sigh. I gave up.

It’s February — a new month. Time to try again, eh?

My morning reading is from five separate books. Does it ever happen to you that disparate readings coalesce into one concept? Yeah, well, that happened to me this morning.

I started a little project last year of writing down all the questions Jesus asked in the gospels. Then I moved on to the questions that people asked Jesus. Now I’m writing down all the questions — and who asked them — and what the reply was. Every morning, I write one question and the reply.

Today Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered “I saw you under the fig tree.”

How do you know me?

I saw you.

Ponder that for a while.

I moved on to Brian Doyle. In a “proem” (which is what he called his combination of prose and poetry) titled The Shrew, he describes an encounter with — you guessed it — a shrew. He ends with these words:

For just an instant I paid attention with every shard and iota of my being.
Maybe we couldn’t survive if we were like all the time, I don’t know,
But when it happens we see that which none of us can find the words for.
Sometimes we are starving to see every bit of what is right in front of us.

Brian Doyle, One Long River of Song

I think we are starving to see.

And to be seen.

I had an unnerving conversation at work several weeks ago. Someone said something to me that both thrilled me and bothered me. I talked to Rachel, my therapist, about it. “You were seen,” she said — and she was a hundred percent right. I’m not used to being seen. For a brief moment someone saw behind my facades, and I’ll admit that it was slightly terrifying.

Perhaps that’s what Nathanael felt. Thrilled and terrified. How do you know me? I saw you.

I can remember the first time I saw you at Church of the Redeemer. You were instantly someone I wanted to know. Why is that? Perhaps, I had a sense of our commonalities. I don’t know.

To see and to be seen. That’s what’s swirling in my thoughts today.

On a different note, I’m sorry you’re not feeling well again. I wish more people knew about the long-term effects of COVID. I wish more people understood that fighting a pandemic is a team sport, not an individual one. It’s like a massive round of Tug of War. The stakes are high. We need everyone to join in pulling on the rope.

You’re in my thoughts today.



My messy little reading space

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