What Keeps Me From Seeing?
I like to take a walk in late morning each day. It helps clear my mind and stretch my muscles before I plunge into the work and activities of afternoon and evening. Living beside Monterey Bay, I never know what I’ll see on my outing.
Today, when I arrived at the water’s edge (actually at the cliff beside the water!), I got a wonderful surprise. I could see all of Monterey Bay – from the Lighthouse at Point Santa Cruz, around past Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, Moss Landing, to the flatter lands where the Salinas River enters the Bay. Then the Big Sur mountains rise up behind Monterey and go out all the way to the ocean. The water was calm – very few waves for the surfers. The kelp beds were spreading out to enjoy the sunshine. The sea lions on the rock were chatting among themselves. Sea gulls soared over the water. I could see it all.
In “the olden days,” when I was a girl, I would never have thought that seeing all the way around a bay was anything special. I grew up in Eastern Washington state. We had clouds or sunshine. Sometimes we had fog. But you could always see across the river! And normally, you could see the surrounding mountains too.
Living on the coast, we never know from day to day whether the fog will be in or not. Even on a sunny day, the fog often sits in the middle of the Bay, blocking the view of the other towns and the mountains. But today it is clear. The smoke from the Summit fire is gone from the sky. The clouds we have are high and moving inland. The fog is sitting way off the coast, barely visible from land. And the view is stunning.
It occurs to me that the spiritual life is something like our views of Monterey Bay. Like the Bay, God is always present here – within us, among us, around us. I exist only because God has imagined me, given me breath, breathes through me, loves me continually into being. Yet all too often I don’t notice. I don’t see the beauty all around me. I miss the “love notes” scattered all around me – the flowers, the birds, the native bees in the weeds, the smiles of young mothers and their babies, the laughter of teens and the comfortable togetherness of retired couples out for a walk. I don’t see them for what they are, or worse, I don’t see them at all. I move through my life’s conversation doing all the talking, forgetting to look and listen for the presence of the Divine.
Today I pray that I’ll remember to open my eyes, ears, heart, mind to notice God’s presence. I’ll remember to ask myself, “What keeps me from seeing today?” I’ll remember to be grateful. I invite you to do the same. And maybe while we’re at it, we could also stop gratefully for a moment and ask, “What keeps us as a people from seeing today?”