of Seeing:" Session No. 8 -- readings from chapter 8, "Choosing
We must see the world as scientists,
but first as lovers. Growing
up in a world fearful of mystery, we’ve fallen out of the habit, and
must relearn it. We must love
the world with a child’s love for its parents, a love immediate and
unreserved, no matter that the world gives us both blueberries and the
black flies that torment us as we pick them.
We must love the world with a love of a mother or father for her or
his two-year-old child, the one with the scabby knees and runny nose and
the lungs of a future opera singer running toward us now with whatever gob
of creation—wasp nest or
wisteria or worm—it has
clutched in its gleeful fist. We
must love the world as new lovers do one another, as if to be in the
beloved’s presence is to walk through a world made newly luminous,
finding that every ordinary gesture—the
way he drops his car keys on the table, the way she raises a cup to her
lips—is holy and part of a sacred dance.
Mystic vision is a lover’s vision, and despite the pain love
brings, to see the world through a lover's eyes is already to have chosen
Preparation (distribute pencils and paper or note cards):
1. Describe a time in your life, whether in childhood or more recently, when you saw something for the first time, or learned to see differently.
2. Describe something about the space where you are right now that you haven't noticed before, or haven't seen in quite the same way.
1. What does it mean to see the world "scientifically" or "objectively"? How do you do this?
2. Why do you see the world differently at different times? Give an example from your life. What caused you to see something in a new way?
3. When has the world appeared full of mystery and wonder to you? Was that a good experience, or scary, or both? Why?
4. What would it mean for you to experience the world as mysterious -- full of mystery and wonder -- all the time? Could you function in such a state?
5. What would it mean for you to observe the world always in purely objective or scientific terms? What would be gained? What would be lost?
6. Is there a way for you to balance "mystic" and "scientific" vision in your life?
Our responsibilities to the world are many and complex, yet they seem to begin in the simple yet arduous act of seeing the world and responding—renewing our promise—to it. I sometimes imagine that if the creator of the universe wanted to take another shot at communicating what was most important, she might replace all of sacred scripture with the words “Pay Attention!” To choose the world means first of all to see it clearly, to shed fantasy and habit, to look, and look again, to let ourselves be broken open by its intricacy and its mystery.