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Apr 09, 2024 144 Tara K. E. Brelinsky
Encounter

Seeing Old Things with New Eyes

A familiar picture, a routine job, but that day, something different caught her eye.

On the corner of my bathroom vanity is an old photocopy of a drawing (original source long forgotten) in a clear, plastic frame. Years ago, one of my now adult sons had carefully framed it and set it on his dresser. It sat there until he grew up. When I re-homed, I transferred it to the corner of my bathroom vanity. On Saturdays, when I clean the bathrooms, I always lift the little frame and wipe the surfaces beneath it. Occasionally, I’ll swipe my cloth over the smooth sides of the frame to wash away any settled dust and invisible germs. But, like so many other familiar things, I rarely take notice of the image inside the old childish frame.

One particular day, though, this picture caught me by surprise. I eagerly focused on the eyes of the two figures in the image—a child and Jesus. The expression on the little child’s face was one of loving adoration. The innocence of child-like wonder and unrestrained admiration resonated in his soft, penciled eyes. The child’s tender, upward gaze seemed not to notice the horror of the crown of thorns atop Christ’s head or the Cross crushing His right shoulder. In contrast, Jesus’s eyes peered down from beneath heavy lids and shadowed creases. The artist had managed to skilfully veil the depth of pain behind those eyes.

Drawing Parallels

I recalled a memory from my early years as a mother. I was big with baby number three. In the last days of pregnancy, I was attempting to soothe my aching body with a warm bath. I bounded my two young sons. They were full of energy and chatter as they moved around the tub and peppered me with questions. My privacy and physical discomfort were of no consequence to their boyish minds.

I remembered the tears that rolled down my face as I tried, in vain, to get my sons to understand that I was hurting and in need of some space. But, they were simply little children who saw me as their ever-present mama, the one who kissed away boo-boos and always stood at the ready to hear their stories and meet their needs. They lacked understanding of the physical sacrifices that child-bearing demands. And I was too familiar to be seen by them as someone other than their strong, steadfast mother.

I considered the parallels. Like my little boys, the pictured child saw Our Lord through his individual, human lens of experiences. He saw a loving Teacher, a faithful Friend, and a steadfast Guide. Christ obscured the intensity of His Passion—out of mercy and met the child’s gaze with tenderness and compassion. The Lord knew that the child was not ready to see the full measure of the suffering that his salvation had cost.

Lost in the Darkness

Our familiarity with things, people, and situations can make us blind to reality. We most often see through the clouded tunnel of old experiences and expectations. With so many stimuli competing for our attention, it is reasonable that we filter out the world around us. But, like the child in the picture and my own little ones, we tend to see what we want to see and ignore that which does not correspond with our perspectives.

I believe that Jesus wants to heal our blindness. Like the blind man in the Bible who, on being touched by Jesus, said: “I see men, but they look like trees, walking” (Mark 8:22-26), most of us are not ready to see the ordinary with divine eyes immediately. Our eyes are still too accustomed to the darkness of sin, too attached to our self-reliance, too complacent in our worship, and too proud of our human endeavors.

The Full Picture

The price paid for our salvation on Calvary was not an easy price. It was sacrificial. Yet, like the child in the picture on my bathroom vanity, we focus only on Jesus’s tenderness and mercy. And because He is merciful, Jesus doesn’t rush; He allows us to come to a gradual maturity of faith.

However, it is good to ask ourselves every once in a while if we sincerely render efforts towards spiritual maturity. Christ did not give His life so that we might remain in the fantasy world of continued blessings. He gave His life so that we might have eternal life, and we need to open our eyes to see that He bought it at the price of His blood.

As we journey through Lent and especially Holy Week, we need to allow Christ to open our eyes little by little, surrender ourselves to His will, allow Him to remove our idols one by one, and strip away that which has become familiar in our lives so that we may begin to see the old blessings of worship, family, and holiness with new eyes of deep, abiding faith.

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Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a freelance writer and speaker. She lives with her husband and 8 children in North Carolina. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on Blessings In Brelinskyville blessingsinbrelinskyville.com/ or listen to her podcast The Homeschool Educator.

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