Saturday, April 27, 2013


I was watching the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves today on television and they were  suited up wearing “throwback uniforms”, replicas of the Detroit Stars and Atlanta Black Crackers, two early Negro League baseball teams. Apparently today was the nineteenth Annual Tribute game celebrating the contributions of players from the old baseball Negro Leagues .

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

 We bought a home and settled in Pleasant Garden,  a very small town south of Greensboro. At the end of summer we were trying to get our young son registered in a preschool kindergarten program. The local school was filled but there was an opening at another school, the Rena Bullock School, a short distance away. We jumped at the chance and signed Kevin up to attend. A few weeks into the school year we set out for the PTA meeting on a lovely Tuesday evening. 

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. 

I must say that my eyes were opened wide at that moment too, literally and figuratively. For the very first time in my life perhaps, I had this sinking feeling in my stomach and heart, the sudden realization… the feeling that prompted thoughts reaching back over the years as I began to see and feel how many black citizens and members of other minorities must have felt in the past when they walked into the room filled with people of another race.  My wife and I had known that the school was all black but didn't calculate the stir it would cause among others.

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.”

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

For those who have inquired about the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, referenced in some of my articles, here’s the information. This book is used in Bible study by students of Christian Science and people of many different faiths.

It explains the scientific laws behind the teachings and healings of Christ Jesus. From the first chapter, “Prayer,” to her exegeses of Genesis and Revelation, the author invites readers to deeply consider the allness of God, the perfection of man as God's spiritual creation, and how an understanding of these facts brings healing—just as it did in biblical times. For over 135 years, readers have testified that reading and studying this book has given them a spiritual sense of the Bible and their permanent relationship to God, and has also resulted in physical healing and spiritual uplift. For more information or to purchase this book, click here.


Melissa Hayden said...

What a wonderful story and analogy Pat. Also a great opportunity to translate from the physical to the moral to the spiritual! Thanks.

Patrick Collins said...

Thanks Melissa. Lessons like this are deep and abiding. Those wonderful people at that school welcomed us with open arms and it was such a loving experience. I think we all learned a lesson that night, a genuine "coming together" especially in the wake of the Martin Luther King assassination.

kellymac said...

love, love, love this...!! thanks again for the wonderful reminder to SEE instead of just look...

kevin said...

Love the story. Your son sounds like a wonderful, understanding person. How proud you must be in his blindness to the physical differences and his amazing ability to adapt to new surroundings. because of the depth of your detailed storytelling I feel as if I was there.
Thank you pat

Keith Eberhart said...

Thanks for sharing a great story Pat. Made me think about fight or flight situations.