The other day I was shaken into the reality of my own inability to see clearly.
In a moment of weakness I’d promised offspring Sammy I’d go with his class on a field trip visit to National Geographic headquarters. I’d been traveling earlier in the week and had conveniently forgotten my offer . . . only to return home to a very excited 8-year-old who informed me he’d been sleeping with his National Geographic t-shirt since I’d left just so he would be sure to remember to wear it when we went together on Friday.
And this is how it was that I found myself, not just quietly accompanying my son on a day at the museum, but slapped with a big nametag reading, “MRS. BUTLER” and assigned a rather unruly group of 6 kids, for which I was responsible to ferry down to the Metro station, on the Metro, off the Metro and down a busy DC street to the National Geographic headquarters.
Nevertheless, we persevered and spent two torturous hours in the museum trying to keep little hands from breaking things, then successfully navigated our way through lunch. Whew! The teacher told the parent chaperones we had a choice: for the 10 minutes remaining we could either take the kids to the National Geographic bookstore, or let them run around in the courtyard.
Needless to say I did not think too long about this question, and off I herded them toward the courtyard, desperately threatening pretty much anything I could think of to try to keep them together.
This was the moment that my own blindness, my complete inability to see the world as God sees it, hit me smack in the face. And it felt like a big bucket of cold water.
I’d just passed the woman, veering the kids away and sort of walking between them and her, when I caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye.
Ski hat pulled down over her head; big jacket covering her small frame; huge eyes taking everything in. I walked by and I realized: “I know her!”
I know her.
And by “know” I do not mean she looked familiar. Normally I see her in church (every single Sunday), not out on the streets. She and I worship together.
I turned around and called out her name in surprise and she smiled, like she’d been patiently waiting for me to notice her. “Hey Pastor Amy!” she said. “I thought that was you, but I usually see you in a long robe. I wasn’t sure when you walked right by me!”
As I turned back to the kids one of them said to me with a mixture of horror and surprise, “Who was THAT?” and as I tried to explain I could feel my face burning with shame.
Open your eyes.
Oh, for eyes that could see the world with the open possibilities Jesus eyes did. Some days I’m sure I finally have them . . . and then something like this happens and it seems to me that even after years of following Jesus I am still tripping and stumbling through this human life with my eyes squeezed tightly shut.