Through Ben’s Eyes

A few weekends ago, we went to the cabin in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania with my husband’s family. We took the grandchildren for a walk to pick up fall leaves. It was a gorgeous October afternoon– a bit past the peak of fall colors, but still full of beauty.

My son, Ben, was the slowest of the walkers, so I hung back with him as he chose leaf after leaf after leaf for his “treasure bag.” After I watched him choose what appeared to me to be very ordinary dead leaves, with brown spots and without much color, I decided to ask him a question. “Ben, why are you choosing those leaves? They don’t have much color and they have ugly brown spots on them.” To which he replied, “Mom, God made these, too!” He twisted his face as if to say, why can’t you see what I’m seeing, Mom, because it’s so obvious!

It’s something we’ve heard a thousand times in Christian circles, that beauty is everywhere and we just need to learn to see people and things the way God sees them. But as I was sharing this story with my spiritual director and bemoaning my inability to do this well– to see with God’s eyes and appreciate all the gifts in my life, large or small, she responded in a surprising way.

“Kris Anne, it is already in you to do this. You have the eyes to see, and it’s only your unwillingness to believe in the light within you that is keeping you from blossoming into all the potential that God has placed within you. Think about your mom. You have told me before that she had little worldly beauty, yet she was beautiful to you. You loved her hands and her eyes, her spunk and mischievous wink. You know true beauty. The Spirit has given you great power… you just don’t believe that yet.” The truth struck me head-on.

I wonder sometimes if we, in the same way, underestimate God-in-us as faith communities. Do we have faith to believe that it is already in us, as the Body of Christ, to see with God’s eyes and to act in God’s power to bring the Kingdom into visible expression? Do I believe in the Spirit at work in my own church community… or, as our shortcomings and struggles rise to the surface, do I underestimate what we’re capable of?