*If you want to indulge more than just one sense as you read, I suggest listening to Somewhere in Between by August Wilhelmsson. Words can say so much, but words + an image + music can say more.
Be he a pupil of dark or a pupil of light.
Either he will see flames of Hell, gnawing at his ankles.
This man lives on flesh-law straw and self-slave sand.
Or he will behold the fierce and fiery throne of one so Good.
This man lives on precious-stone precedents and spirit-raw law. <
Gaze into the blaze of eyes likened to fire,
you will see what you believe and what you receive.
If you’ve ever been locked in the silent soul-searching exchange of eye contact with a newborn baby or a dying old man, you may know they are both similar stares. You see the familiarity of one just coming from a Place and another heading back There, to the same. Just beyond your reach, it feels as if there are stories hidden in their gaze. You look and you see a knowing, a Wisdom.
My theory is that what we’re really seeing in their eyes are traces of Home. The infant we cradle leaves a quickly-fading imprint of a Beyond in their vision. Perhaps just minutes ago they were in a realm of Spirit with God, seeing things we can’t even begin to comprehend. In that moment, weak in our arms, they are wiser than we are.
Then there are the saints on the verge of Spirit splitting from body. There, in the autumn of their life, we see it arise again: a prick of light. They are filled with a different wisdom, a million different stories, but in that moment, again, we see the reflection of Home distancing in their eyes. It is then we remember, in a dreamy sort of way, the treasure hidden in these earthly vessels. We remember the gift of life and we wonder at its purpose. We remember the importance of eye-to-eye encounters.
On average, we limit our eye-gazing to lovers and glimpses in between. We crave eye contact when we speak and then fail to give it when we listen. The deeper the conversation goes, the less eye-contact we seem to make, preferring to look upon distractions and the virtual iPhone worlds in our palms. We approach God and one another with a confessional box around ourselves to limit what they can see in our souls. But there’s something wild about those willing to make eye contact, and even wilder is the connection it brings. It speaks of unashamed confidence in knowing they are made righteous in Christ. It speaks of purity and openness. It speaks of gratitude for salvation. It is not the man with eyes turned down who is most humble, but the one who can look into the eyes of another knowing that all has been made well, no matter what.
I don’t imagine the Christ talking to His disciples and scuffing the ground as He shared His heart. I don’t think He looked away when He told the woman forgiven of her adultery to go and sin no more. I don’t even think He peered over the tops of the heads of the Pharisees when He called them a brood of vipers. In fact, the more intimate the conversation becomes, the more eye contact He craves.
Let’s dare to have a staring contest. Keep staring until the exposure feels like grit in your eyes, and the feeling of being seen, truly seen makes you itch to look away. But keep the gaze and allow Him to come searching and touching every dark corner. Allow Him to illuminate your strengths and weaknesses alike. The mission is to nurture the flame, woo with the wind, and persevere in that flame until one day we once again burst into flame and the ashes of this life become a trail to the gate of Home, eternity in Him.
I believe that same light behind the eyes of the newborn babe and the aged autumn man, was meant to remain in our eyes all the days of our life. Not just our beginning or our end. I think ‘home’ was meant to be etched there always, looking back at us when we brush our teeth in the mirror in the mornings. Home isn’t meant to just be a Heaven beyond life on earth, but Home is within us, as tabernacles of flesh for the very presence of God. We, the Children of that Light, were born to carry the Wild inside and to allow it to peer out. Keep beholding and then in one blink, like dirt washed from your eyes, you’ll find your vision clearer than before. It’s then you will realize that the embers have been in you all along.
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your window, what a dark life you will have!”Matthew 6:22 MSG
Father of Lights, give us wild eyes as You have wild eyes. May we see more than meets the eye as we honour those around us. May we lift up the shades and open the windows so that they may see you peering back at them. Even more-so, may we dare to embrace the heating passion of your gaze as you melt away our dross-made masks. May we keep staring until our eyes become flames and we hear Holy Spirit whisper in delight, “You have your Father’s eyes.” Amen.