We worship this Second Sunday in Lent with focus on the sense of sight. We will dedicate a framed puzzle painting of St. Francis for the elementary classroom, hear a magnificent “visiting piano” and engage the practice of Visio Divina — praying with art.
Our focus scripture is the story of Abram’s encounter with G-d in a vision. Abram is led out into the night to view the stars. Upon receiving the vision, there is a shift, a growing trust, in a future determined by Sacred Possibility, rather than his own frustration, worry, and suspicion. He’s asked to divide livestock for the torch of fire and pot of smoke — representing G-d — to pass through. The Holy Covenant-Maker initiates and commits in this ritual act while Abram watches.
It took me a number of months of courage in practice to receive and act upon the invitation. The invitation comes from Jewish mystics, and others. I received it primarily through one of Tilden Edwards’ books of practices (Living in the Presence). So one afternoon I thought I might be ready.
I placed a chair several feet from a large mirror. Breathing deeply in and out, I began to follow the invitation to gaze softly but steadily into my own face. At first I simply wanted to giggle at the awkwardness of it. How silly! As I continued to breath, I followed the guide to gaze intently into the reflection of my own eyes, as if one might gaze into an icon. Watery, itchy eyes gradually relaxed, opening to the light of the fixture above.
Over time, my sense of warning, discomfort, and judgment, began to melt, replaced by a sense of warmth and affirmation. Deeper into the meditation, I had a sense of those who’d gone before being present through my eyes, as if to say, “thanks for visiting.”
The power of the intent filled me, overwhelmed me. No longer at an intellectual level, but at a soulful, cellular level it became clear: we are vibrant, living bodies, so transient and mortal. Yet, we carry something of beyond-ness, and in-ness, and titillating union. The loving harmony keeps flowing through us. We get to have the attention to see it. We get to gaze through our irises, and those of others, including other creatures, into its gorgeous expanse of intimacy. We, they, all sentient beings, are more than meets the eye!
Try it. Pray about it. Work toward it. Sit in front of a mirror for a few minutes (up to 30 minutes), and see what you might see!