A friend was telling me about her hospital confinement. She said she really loved the seascape picture on the wall in her room because it reminded her of her carefree childhood days playing beside the sea. On the second day of her stay, a nurse’s aide took the picture down and replaced it with another one, a picture this time of mountains. My friend protested and asked why.
“When you look at something every day,” the aide explained, “you stop seeing it. It becomes invisible. New or different pictures enable you to see and appreciate the beauty of different things.”
I was reminded of the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Little Red Riding Hood, upon seeing the wolf disguised as her grandmother, exclaimed, “Gramma, what big eyes you have!” And the wolf replied, “The better to see you with, my dear.”
My friend’s experience set me to thinking. Was I walking around with small eyes, with eyes half-closed? Had I really stopped ‘seeing’ the things I saw everyday? How long since I had really looked at the pictures on the wall of our sala, at the knick-knacks on the bookshelves, at the magnets decorating my refrigerator door, at the branches of the mango tree reaching toward my window? It seems the more often I passed by or used an object, the less I seemed to notice it. I had begun to take things for granted, drifting by without really looking at them. Maybe it was time to change the way I looked at things!
I stopped and looked closely at the pictures in our sala: one frames a passage from Rolando Carbonel’s book “Beyond Forgetting” that Jun used to recite to me during our courtship; another is a rare picture of Jesus knocking at the door. Each knick-knack on the bookshelves and each magnet on my refrigerator door is a souvenir of a special occasion, a birthday, a family picnic, our annual Christmas reunion, Jun’s trip to India, my visit to my relatives in the states, a remembrance from a friend. There is even a maple leaf magnet from Vermont state where I was born. Everything I saw became an adventure down Memory Lane.
That morning as I gazed at the mango tree just outside my upstairs window, I saw five little birds holding a breakfast songfest on one branch, a small butterfly sheltering from the brisk breeze on another, and I marveled at the dawning sunlight playing hide and seek with its shadows among the leafy branches.
That morning I resolved to open my eyes to the everyday wonders, to the everyday epiphanies, that surround me by seeing life anew with new eyes. I am discovering that this simple daily exercise in awareness is adding excitement and joy to the commonplace things in my life.
I urge you to begin looking around you with new eyes, ‘the better to see God’s blessings’ amidst the concerns and challenges of life.