Don’t be fooled by the eyes in your head. They can look, but they rarely see everything.
If you’re one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” folk, you’ll miss much. Some things can only be seen with the eyes of the heart. The eyes of the heart may not look at much, but they see a lot.
The eyes of the heart see the potential hidden in seeds.
They see the tears that lurk behind a smile.
They see wings on earthbound bodies.
They see fire burning in the bones of people who appear ordinary to the eyes of the head.
They see lies slyly cloaked in pretty words.
They see breathtaking beauty in wrinkles and scars.
The eyes of your head are bossy. They will usually assume they’re in charge unless you tell them otherwise. But you can tell them it’s ok to rest a while.
The eyes of your head can see a tree, a banana, a cat.
The eyes of your heart can see the uncreated, the invisible, the impossible.
What would you like to see?
I just realized that it’s February.
I know that’s not a huge revelation, and it’s not like I didn’t know it before now. But it occurred to me that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Tomorrow.
That means it’s really cold outside, and there’s snow on the ground. But we don’t care. There’s going to be a party at school. All week long we’ve been decorating the shoeboxes we brought from home with red, white, and pink paper, and pasting homemade hearts to them to make them all fancy. There’s a hole cut in the top of the box. This is our mailbox.
We trudge into the classroom dropping mittens, our faces all rosy-cheeked and sniffly and our snow boots tracking in bits of slush. Each of us has a bag full of little envelopes we addressed at home, a valentine card tucked into each one. Those valentines aren’t homemade. They came in boxes from the store, and we chose the ones we loved best for the people we loved best, and we chose the most generic “friend” kind for the people we hoped wouldn’t read too much into the fact that we were giving them a valentine, since the rule is that you have to give everyone a valentine card and you’re not allowed to skip anyone, not even that weird kid who picks his nose during class and chews his food with his mouth open.
We do our schoolwork with half of our attention on the party that’s yet to come. The day takes forever. But it’s finally time, and we put our mailboxes on our desktops and begin to play postman with our little bags full of valentines. Someone hands out cupcakes and boxes full of conversation hearts. We each get a little styrofoam cup of Koolaid. Teacher gives us heart-shaped lollipops and then ushers us out the door to the school bus before the full effects of the sugar kick in.
Once home we sit down and open our valentines, carefully inspecting each one for any hints of hidden love or unwanted attention, although it’s obvious most of the class used the same half-dozen boxes available at the local store. Some of the valentines have a few extra conversation heart candies tucked inside. We pop those in our mouths quickly before Mom can see that we have a potential dinner-spoiler issue lurking. No sense tempting the Wrath of Mom.
Yes, this is February.
Except…it’s February and there’s no snow. I don’t even own mittens or snow boots. It’s been decades since I attended school or made a valentine mailbox, and I don’t even know what ever happened to that weird kid.
But if I close my eyes I can still hear and see all the glory of the longest month of the year.
Things to be happy about:
-birthday balloons that are still going strong three weeks later
-new garage doors
-red pajamas with white polka dots
-that trees pollinate
-that I have antihistamines and essential oils for when trees pollinate
-customers who are so grateful they hug me
-that I am not part of some tribe that goes naked. It’s kinda cold out there, y’all.
-this seven second video:
-the cheese goddess down at Wine World. She hands out samples.
-pretty fiery roses from Mr. Sparky
-that Jake the Jerk-Faced Dog is farting somewhere upstairs instead of at my feet
-that my little town is currently sleestak-free
-that I’m a grown-up and I don’t have to eat lima beans ifn’ I don’t wanna
And I don’t wanna.
So I had this pile of Southern Living magazines growing in the corner of my bedroom.
By pile, I mean every issue dating back to sometime in the autumn of 2008. Maybe it would be better to call it a small mountain.
I don’t read a lot of magazines. National Geographic is my favorite even if they do believe my uncle was a monkey, and Mr. Sparky and I both enjoy Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country. Southern Living is my light reading, and I admire the houses I’ll probably never live in, the projects I’ll probably never undertake, the gardens I’ll probably never cultivate, and the recipes I’ll probably never cook. When I come across a page of interest, I turn down the corner so I’ll be able to come back to it later.
I’ve obviously been at this for a while.
When you have a small mountain like that growing in the corner for so long, you tend to stop seeing it. It’s just…there. But last week I saw it and immediately broke out in hives. And so I dragged all those years’ worth of magazines downstairs and began revisiting the dog-eared pages and tearing out the things that still interested me.
Tonight I finished the last one.
Truth be told, as I flipped through those pages I once marked I often had no idea what had interested me on that page. All I can figure is that I must have been feeling really hungry when I turned down that page corner, because on a normal day there is nothing on that page that I’d give a second glance.
I also don’t cook as much as I did six years ago. I didn’t have a job back then, and I had more mouths to feed living under this roof. Recipes were more interesting then, and I was more willing to do complicated things to put a meal on the table.
Now ain’t nobody got time for dat. Or the want-to. We don’t starve, though; Mr. Sparky loves to cook and is darned good at it, and he’s willing to tackle recipes I would never touch because of the Complicated Factor or the Mess Factor.
It’s weird how you can’t feel time passing, and yet the effects of it show up in the strangest ways.
Fewer places set at the table.
Different sized shoes left piled by the door.
An evolving grocery shopping list that contains fewer cartons of soda or boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes, but more Terra Chips and coconut oil.
Old magazines with what-was-I-thinking? pages marked for later review.
Sometimes I forget how much I’ve changed over the past years. I see differently, I think differently, I expend my energy—physical, mental, and emotional—differently. But I like the me I am now far more than I ever liked the me I was back then.
That chick had strange taste in magazine articles.
They asked for a vision.
It didn’t come in the way they expected. It wasn’t a glorious presentation of a beautiful finished picture, a roadmap complete with destination photos. After all, wasn’t that how visions were supposed to be?
Not that it mattered how it was supposed to be. It really only mattered how it actually was.
The vision came scattered, gradually taking form, slowly unfolding. It came in bits and pieces, fits and starts. It came as a handful of puzzle pieces with no box lid to reveal what the finished picture should look like, and not enough edge pieces to build the frame.
They gathered the pieces together and began to examine the shape of each one.
It was difficult to fathom how powerful those pieces were, and equally difficult to fathom how exponentially more powerful they would be when they began to settle into place, with glimpses of a bigger picture occasionally emerging in the clicks and snaps.
It was also difficult to fathom how, even in its infant stage, this vision was blessed for holy destruction.
It came as a hammer and with swift, merciful blows removed pieces that, though beautiful, were improperly placed.
It came as a carving knife, and as it gouged and shaped, new levels of form and function arose from the shavings.
It came as sandpaper, the irritating grit rubbing and smoothing away the splinters and rough edges.
But holy destruction is the painful and breathtaking aspect of holy construction. It is correction in the very process of building and creating.
And so they allowed the vision to shape them.
Questions of the day:
Did I hear that correctly?
Why do I see things this way?
Why is it I seem to be the only one seeing things this way?
Is this a hill worth dying on?
Seriously…did I hear that correctly?
Is it more gracious to remain silent or to speak up?
If I kill you with kindness are you just going to bleed all over me?
Is it more honorable to go down with the ship or to survive a shipwreck?
Where is my other silver flip flop?
Why do total heathens often do a better job at preaching love and kindness and respect than the folks who are supposed to be identifiable by their possession of those same traits?
Why is my poppycorn allotment so small today?
The freeway became a highway.
The highway became a dirt road.
The dirt road became a trail.
The trail faded until it was so faint it could barely be seen…and then it ended.
For a long while I stood and stared at the landscape before me. Unbroken ground. No signs for direction. No paths to follow. Not a soul to be seen in front of me.
But as I waited the sound of my name came on the wind, and my heart left me no real choice.
I lifted my foot and stepped onto the grass, and I began to walk forward into uncharted territory.