Godtalk: Sight and Insight


A child's brown eye from LibreShot.com

Seeing implies more than having good eyesight. We may well be seeing physically, yet not seeing the meaning of it. Truly seeing implies more than having eyes that are simply open.

For instance, in the Gospels, we see Jesus doing a number of healings. He heals lame people, deaf people, mute people, people with leprosy. What is important to see in these various miracles is that usually there’s more at issue than just physical healing.

Jesus is healing people in a deeper way.  He is healing the lame so that they can walk in freedom and in service of God:  healing the deaf so that they can hear the Good News; healing the mute so that they can open their mouths in praise.

We see this most clearly at those times when Jesus heals people who are blind.  He’s giving them more than just physical sight; he’s opening their eyes to see more deeply, to become the eyes of faith. John 9


The grace and teachings of Jesus help us to see in a deeper way by shifting our eyes away from: 

  • seeing through familiarity to seeing through wonder.  G.K. Chesterton once said that the secret to life is to learn to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again. We open our eyes to depth when we open ourselves to wonder.   
  • seeing through jealousy to seeing through admiration.  Our perception becomes distorted whenever we move from the happy nstate of admiration to the unhappy state of envy. Our eyesight is clearer when we delight in admiration.
  • seeing through bitterness to seeing through eyes purified and softened by grief. The way out of bitterness is grieving. Some things can only be seen by eyes filled with tears.
  • seeing through fantasy to seeing through appreciation and prayer.  One of the key movements within our spiritual lives is the movement from fantasy to prayer, a movement that ultimately frees us from wanting to press to ourselves all that’s beautiful to appreciating beauty for its own sake. We can only really see and appreciate beauty when we stop lusting for it. 
  • seeing through relevance to seeing through contemplation.  Our longing for relevance makes us look out at the world with restless, dissatisfied eyes. We practice mindfulness and see the richness of the present moment only when our disquiet is stilled by solitude.
  • seeing through anger to seeing through forgiveness.  Nothing clouds our eyes so much as anger.. And nothing clears our vision as much as forgiveness. No one holding a grudge sees clearly.
  • seeing through longing and hunger to seeing through gratitude.  Longing and hunger distort our vision. Gratitude restores it. It enables insight.   

The most grateful person has the best eyesight.  And gratitude echoes ‘the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.’  Seeing straight has more dimensions than we might imagine.

Peter Knott SJ