Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A little closer to then

One of the frustrations that affects anyone who's ever tried to take a photograph is that there is a significant difference between what our eyes see and what the camera sees.

For one thing, our eyes have a gift for balancing light; for seeing the blue of the sky as well as the green of the grass, while the camera must often choose between the two. To get the green grass, the sky is over-exposed and becomes white. To get the sky, the grass is under-exposed and turns a dark muddy brown.

To compensate for these challenges, I often find myself taking two or sometimes three different images, one exposed for sky and another exposed for cabin, or for grass, and then layering them over one another to find the necessary balance.

The human eye also has a gift for filtering out unnecessary distractions: when we look through a screened window, we see the beauty in the field beyond. And when we look at the face of a loved one, we automatically filter out their surroundings -- and then are startled later, when the film is developed, to see a branch sticking out of her ear, or a gray haze over the garden where the window was dirty.

I think the difference between the way God sees and the way we see is equally significant. I think God is even better at balancing light and dark than we are, because God's seeing has the added dimension of time. Just as we can see the balance between dark and light in a particular view, God can see that there is a balance between the dark and light periods over the course of our lives. Where we -- in a dark place -- have to call up a memory or imagine a future where there is light, and layer it over the present in order to achieve a feeling of emotional balance, God can take it all in at once.

And where we see more narrowly -- the things in our lives being divided into that which is loved and should be highlighted, and that which is a distraction and must be erased -- God sees as a sort of magnified version of what the camera sees: everything -- and everything is loved; everything contributes to the beauty and mystery of life. For God there are no screens, no filters; everything is good and beautiful in its way.

My husband has been a little stressed lately, preparing to re-enter the job arena, and I have found myself saying something I've always in the past been careful NOT to say: that I think it's possible he might find meditation helpful. Yesterday he asked what benefits I thought might ensue for him from meditation, and my first thought was that it would help him be more responsive in the now; help him to be more attuned to what is being communicated by those around him, more aware of undercurrents, less likely to get so caught up in his own need to communicate that he misses what is really being asked of him.

Which is, essentially, a way of saying that meditation -- I think, anyway -- brings us a bit closer to seeing as God sees; closer to the big picture, in which the distinction between now and not-now, between light and not-light; between loved and not-loved becomes more blurred, while at the same time we become more aware of all of those pieces as key ingredients in being present and offering presence.

All of which brings to mind that curious line from First Corinthians: For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. Maybe by meditating we move into that space between now and then -- or at least a little closer to then.

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