The Tree and Seeing

A while back, a quiet early spring morning presented me with a doorway into a reflective moment. A group of us were having a meeting at a small retreat place situated just across a road from the Niagara River in Ontario only a mile or so from the Falls, close enough so that the roar penetrated the quiet of the morning. The sun was lifting from the horizon into a clear sky and begged a quick walk before the meeting began. Near the halfway mark of the walk stood a spring leaf-laced tree silhouetted against the rising sun. The dark trunk and branches were stark in their simplicity and almost begged to be drawn.

I remembered a technique from an art class in which we drew the “negative space” around the object rather than the object itself. Doing the drawing that way allowed the object to be seen for what it was rather than for what we knew it to be, so that if a table, seen from a certain perspective, showed only three legs, we would tend to draw a fourth, just to make it look “more real.”

It was an easy jump from the tree and the concept of negative space to the realization that often I saw myself as what I wished was there rather than what actually was there, both for good or ill. It also led to a temptation to see others, society, our Church, our country, even all of creation, as I would like them to be rather than accepting them as they are. Seeing with new eyes by looking at the surrounding space less as negative and more as God’s grace encourages me to forgive and accept. Accepting myself and others as who we really are opens me to the gift of seeing as though with God’s eyes.

– Blog entry and photo by Sister Joyce Lehman

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