May 07, 2006


The house was quiet. It was dark outside, and my two sons were asleep. I crawled into bed with a book to read, but a thought distracted me. I pushed it to the back of my mind so I could read, but it insisted I take notice of it.

The thought was this: today, I did not see my sons.

I said to myself, that's crazy; of course I saw them. I fixed them breakfast and got them ready for school. In the evening, I asked if homework was done. I had them brush their teeth and get ready for bed. I even read them a bedtime story.

I said to this thought that was bugging me, "Go away. You're being ridiculous. Of course I saw my sons today. Now let me read."

My thought would not listen. It said to me, "Just because photons of light reflect into your eyes does not mean that you see. You say you saw your sons today? Well, then, answer me this: What emotion was reflected upon their faces? When you looked at them, could you tell how they were feeling inside? Were you able to see whether this day was for them a day of joy, sadness, or confusion?"

I had to admit, I didn't know any of that. I hadn't seen what emotions were on their faces. If they tried to tell me, I didn't listen. My focus was on the day's activities, and getting them ready for those activities. I never looked to see if their mouths were turned up or down, if their eyes reflected peace or anxiety, or if their jaws were relaxed or clenched. I didn't see any of it.

The truth is, there's a lot I don't see, even though it's right in front of me. Sometimes, instead of driving, I'll go for a walk down a road, and I find myself saying, "I never knew a stream went under the road here," or, "I never knew the leaves on this tree were shaped like that," or, "I've never noticed how beautiful the flowers are in this particular field." It's a road I've been up and down a hundred times before, and now I'm seeing it as if for the first time.

The other night I looked at my wife. I hardly recognized her. Running around, busy with life, it had bene a long time since I had really "seen" her. She looked beautiful. I need to see her more often.

Laying there in bed, the book now closed, I wondered: When was the last time I "saw" my sons? I tried to remember. Had it been a few days, a week, or more? An image came to my mind, a memory: How big they had appeared, how mature, how much more grown-up than my previous time of "seeing."

What did they look like now? I didn't know. My memory could not help, because it only shows me what they looked like yesterday or the day before, but not what they look like today.

I had to know.

I got up and went into their rooms to take a look. Of course, they looked much the same as they did the last time I saw them, but not exactly the same. They never do look exactly the same. How much had I missed? How much growing, questioning, loving had I overlooked today? How much did they need me to see them today?

The day is gone. I cannot bring it back. I missed it, and now it is over. But tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow, I'll open my eyes.

1 comment:

jo(e) said...

Oh, I know this feeling. Thanks for the reminder.

It's so easty to get caught up in the busyness of life.