Spiritual Practice: “Help Me to See the World Through Other Eyes”
As God’s people we are called to trust, to hope and to know the deep joy and peace that comes from cultivating relationship with God. In these unsettling times, may we make space to grow our spiritual muscles that we may increase in strength, compassion, and a spirit of optimistic realism.
Over the weeks ahead I and others will share spiritual practices which I encourage you to try at home. This week I offer some practices to increase our the ability to see the world through other eyes.
A business professor asked his students how they saw themselves in the mirror. Most women said “woman,” or perhaps, “Black woman,” and Black men said, “Black man.” The professor, who was a white male, teared up as he told the class in the mirror he saw a person – not a white man, simply a person.
Since hearing this question I have sought to see a person in the mirror and in everyone I come across. It takes more mental clearing out than anticipated, but the effort was worth it when one evening I looked in a passing car and realized I saw … a person. Words cannot express the freedom in stripping away all the other categories. What a lightness of being in seeing simply a fellow being.
Now, to the practice. First I invite each one to look in the mirror a few minutes a day and note what you see. Continue until you see simply a person.
Second, with Indigenous Peoples’ Day coming up on October 12, I invite us to take a closer look at the perspective of those who first welcomed and later suffered under Europeans. Let us step back from celebrating the conquerors and make time to watch one or both of two talks from Native Americans listed below: one from a leader of the Onondaga people; and one from a Navajo who discusses the Oneida. Both of these peoples lived and live in New York State.
Let us remember the papal bull of 1493 which justified seizure of land not inhabited by white Christians. Let us remember, too, our country in 1924 severely restricted immigration from Italy, considering it an inferior country.
The films: Here is a short film from 2015 featuring Oren Lyons about the Doctrine of Discovery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3gF7ULVrl4
Here is a 20-minute Ted talk from 2019 by Mark Charles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOktqY5wY4A
Third, please consider praying this prayer each day for a week or more.
Let me not look away, O God, from any truth I should see. Even if it is difficult, let me face the reality in which I live. I do not want to live inside a cosseted dream, imagining I am the one who is always right, or believing only what I want to hear. Help me to see the world through other eyes, to listen to voices distant and different, to educate myself to the feelings of those with whom I think I have nothing in common. Break the shell of my indifference. Draw me out of my prejudices and show me your wide variety. Let me not look away. Amen
From Rt Rev Steven Charleston, former Episcopal Bishop of Alaska
With every blessing,