Suddenly, watching the tribute, my thoughts faded from the game and were transported back some 45 years. It was like reliving yesterday, the revelation of the difference between LOOKING and SEEING. It was all coming back to me....
I had accepted a new job in Greensboro North Carolina on April 1, 1968, just three days before Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Almost immediately after I arrived in town, and in the wake of the senseless murder, there was tension, a feeling of fear and instability in the town that had previously been the site of “sit-ins” a few years earlier, a series of nonviolent protests which led to the Woolworth's department store chain reversing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States
The Meeting. There was a palpable hush as we entered the large auditorium at Rena Bullock School. Apparently we were among the last to arrive, everyone else was seated awaiting the beginning of the meeting. The hush was undoubtedly brought on by the appearance of my wife and myself at the door. Our presence there was undoubtedly unexpected, and certainly a surprise, an incredible surprise to those already seated as we entered the auditorium and were seated.
You see, Rena Bullock School was an all black school, our son was the only white student and we were the only white couple in the building. All heads turned towards the door in the rear of the auditorium and hundreds of shocked faces and wide eyes returned our gaze.
LOOKING. My mind raced to try to get my thoughts around this feeling of being an outsider. But more importantly, How could I not have known, how could we all not have known nor empathized with what it feels like to be a minority, to be tempted to feel out of place, to feel so alone in the midst of a crowd. The Golden Rule flashed through my thought, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
SEEING. That single moment changed me forever and I will always be grateful for it, even though it was rather a shock to my system at the time.
I must point out that after the initial shocked reaction and when the formal meeting was over, we were so warmly welcomed with kindness and courtesy. Loving glances, warm handshakes and laughter topped off our visit as we met with the teachers, the school staff and other parents. We were cordially accepted as “fellow parents” and friends by these lovely individuals. The dear people at this meeting were certainly upholding that Golden Rule Standard, but had I always been so diligent?
How many times had I been cold or insensitive, not appreciating how others felt in similar circumstances?
That initial feeling I had as we entered the auditorium has stayed with me to this day and has resulted in my ongoing attempts to look past what my eyes see on the surface and to look deeper into reality, to see beyond prejudices, to go farther than the worldly view that is constantly put before our eyes. Talk abut a tough lifetime assignment!!!
I began to be aware of other instances of where a deeper, kinder
look may bring out a better understanding, more compassion, more affinity with my fellowman. This included a different view of the old woman down the street, looking lonely, sitting and rocking slowly on her front porch… an empty rocking chair next to her.
The middle aged man with ragged clothes, long straggly hair and unkempt beard walking along Highway 5 towards Blue Ridge, seemingly without a destination.
The single mother with several children shopping carefully and frugally at the grocery, searching in her purse for enough to pay the bill.
I began to ask myself, 'Am I content with seeing and experiencing only the outward sense of things… perhaps seeing and then forgetting the struggles so many people face every day. Am I going to settle for only what the eyes see and the ears hear?' Or can I pray for a clearer view of Creation, one so perfectly demonstrated by the Master Christian?
In reading and studying the deep lessons that the Bible reveals, I saw that a more spiritual view of life brings new insights, new views and healing. Is it really possible for us to actually emulate the strength and healing presence that Jesus and his disciples demonstrated as they made their way through the cities and villages, uplifting and healing the lives of the people in those times? Can we really make a difference by seeing the spiritual view of life?
Mary Baker Eddy, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, points out how Jesus used SEEING instead of LOOKING, when she wrote: “Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause.” *1
I began to understand that by SEEING spiritually, instead of just LOOKING materially, SEEING God’s image and likeness in each individual, SEEING through the false picture to find the real person reflecting the underlying Love, Intelligence, Hope, Patience, Trust, Faith…Spiritual qualities inherent in each of us, where on the surface there appears want and woe, hopelessness, suffering, blindness, pain, fear, lameness, even death, Jesus taught us to uplift the situation. That's how he healed!!!
There are MANY examples in the Bible of this power but one that provides continuing inspiration for me includes a scene where a large group, numbering in the thousands had
gathered to hear Jesus talk. The only food available was five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Jesus, seeing the need to feed the group materially as well as spiritually, LOOKING at the meager supply of food, but SEEING that God is the source of infinite supply, that God meets our every need, that spiritual nourishment is all that we really require, fed and satisfied the crowd and with fish and bread left over. *2
Our next step? How do we start? Why not emulate those wonderful folks at the Rena Bullock School in Pleasant Garden N.C. years ago. Simple Love and acceptance!
We can view and embrace the entire world in a spirit of LOVE, embracing everyone we meet with kindness, provide bushels of loving smiles, warm handshakes and laughter.
And we can cherish a sense of God’s love for each and every one of His precious ideas, remembering ... “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”*3
That’s a Golden Start!
*1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - Mary Baker Eddy (313:24)
*2 Matthew 14:7
*3 Matthew 7:12
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