|(My own photo.)|
At 7:00 in the evening, I sit in front of my open bedroom window enjoying a delicate breeze as streaks of pink light up the pale blue sky. A freshly made salad with sweet strawberries delights my mouth as I ponder the walk that just challenged me. (Not an hour before I left the house, a friend informed me that the day after tomorrow we’re expecting a few inches of snow. Really?)
My camera is temporarily out of commission, it’s in a bowl of rice, since it’s built into the cell phone I dropped in the toilet earlier today, so I don’t have pictures of my walk to share with the world via social media, or even here on this blog post. (I used an old photo.) But, it was a beautiful evening walk, complete with plenty of points to ponder, like, how quiet it was without my phone.
One of those points was perspective, which is something I ponder with relative frequency.
I live on top of a hill and look out my back window over the east side of our city. The view is one of the reasons we bought this house. In the forefront are the houses and rooftops descending the hill beneath us. Always enjoying the view, I never considered it from the vantage point of those who live down there. On this evening’s walk, I noticed, for the first time, the view between the houses that looks up to where our home sits. Our road creates a horseshoe-like loop around other little side streets. I found this view of the backs of tall houses looming over the lower houses to be fascinating, but intimidating; almost creating an “us” and “them” situation in my mind. I noticed, too, that there’s more sound down there; the neighborly noises seem to travel better. The shadows were falling more quickly. Though it felt cozy and protected, instead of the openness of the hilltop, I prefer my world.
But then, I create my own world with my views and my vantage points, just as those below me do. We find security where it presents itself and beauty where it displays itself. I got to wondering how differently I see things than other people. I’ve always been accused of being peculiar, so I guessed a long time ago that I see things slightly askew of what others see, but, what do others see?
Health must look completely different to one who’s never been terribly ill versus one who is currently facing a life-threatening illness, versus one who’s experienced a miraculous healing. I cannot expect to know what anyone else is seeing, even if I myself have been terribly ill, experienced that healing and now walk in health. Their view of what they’re going through is created on the inside of their mind. Yes, bits and pieces of what they see come from tangible things around them, but so much more comes from the impressions those tangible things make on them, unique to them.
So, even if I walk a mile in your shoes, I still can’t begin to imagine how that mile looked to you.
I don’t see what you see. You don’t see what I see. The neighbors beneath me and I see the same sunrise, but, I’ll bet, our descriptions would deceive you. Ponder the ramifications here…
Matthew 7:1-5 reads with an interesting twist in the Message Bible. More commonly we hear, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” But, here we read, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”