What Do You See?

In today’s Gospel from John, two disciples of John the Baptist begin to follow Jesus. “What are you looking for,” he asks them. And when they question where he is staying, he responds, “Come and you will see.”

Come and you will see (John 1:39)

Go and tell John what you hear and see (Matt. 11:3)

Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)

“They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” (Matthew 13:13)

What do you see? How do you see?

Or perhaps I should ask, with how many eyes do you see?

In Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, Richard Rohr tells a story of three man standing by the ocean looking at the same sunset. One sees the immense physical beauty and enjoys the event in itself. The second enjoyed all the beauty, as did the first man, but also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. The third man knew and enjoyed all that the first and second did, but progressed “from seeing to explaining to ‘tasting,” remaining “in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connected him with everything else.”

Rohr explains

Third eye-seeing is the way the mystics see. They do not reject the first eye; the senses matter to them, but they know there is more. Nor do they reject the second eye; but they know not to confuse knowledge with depth or mere correct information with the transformation of consciousness itself. The mystical gaze builds upon the first two eyes – and yet goes further.

Jesus invites us to see. Not just to look. But to see. To really see what is there. All that is there.


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