One of the things I love about fall is the way the view changes. Things that weren’t visible all summer suddenly come into view as the corn is harvested and the leaves fall. In my travels in the last week I’ve discovered ponds, farmhouses and even a big industrial complex that I never knew existed because they were hidden behind the lush foliage of summer.
At the risk of being maudlin and overly metaphorical, I think life is like that sometimes, too. We see things differently in different seasons of our lives. Sometimes it is because the world around us has changed. Sometimes it is because our vantage point has changed. Sometimes it is because we have changed. Things we once saw as burdens or obligations become joys and treasures. Things we once desired with all our hearts no longer appeal. Such change is not, by default, good or bad. I’m not arguing here that as we get older we necessarily see things better or more clearly than when we were young; remember, in the story of the emperor’s new clothes, it was a child who pointed out that the big chief was naked as a jaybird. I’m simply pointing out that we often see things differently.
Of course, seeing is one thing, noticing is another. As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying to Dr. Watson, “you see, but you do not observe.” One of the great joys of life, in my opinion, is noticing things we never noticed before, or noticing things again in a new way. Such noticing, in my experience, is the difference between people for whom life is drudgery and those for whom life is an endless adventure. A friend of mine has what I like to call a “sense of endless enchantment” with the world around her. She is a relentless noticer, a person who can find new wonders even in the route that she commutes every day. It is a rare gift, one that most of us have as children but that rarely seems to survive into adulthood. I can’t help but wonder if maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. I know it is a quality I hope to cultivate in myself.
So, what things do you see differently now, in this season of your life, than you did in other seasons? What things do you notice now that you didn’t before? What things are you noticing anew? What things feed your sense of enchantment with the world around you?
O Lord Jesus Christ, grant us the grace to see with your eyes. Renew our sense of enchantment with your ever-new creation. Open us to the view of the other, until we shall all see you face to face. Amen