I'll be honest. I'm intimidated by all the people who continue to say that during the Covid quarantine we should, among others things, start a hobby, lose weight, learn a language, write a book, organize old pictures, sanitize the house, create a family mission statement, or strategize world peace. Navigating the new landscape of job, home, school, neighboring, and food shopping consumes most of my day - physically and emotionally. Learning Spanish, playing guitar, and writing my life's story will have to wait.
I've been setting more manageable goals: no yelling, pray whenever I get the urge, tell people I love them, stop looking in the fridge as if some answer to the chaos is to be found there, read ... something ... that isn't about the virus, floss (it's not like I don't have time), and go to bed at a reasonable hour. These are doable. It makes me feel good to check off things. This is what I'm capable of right now.
I have, however, added one goal to my daily routine: see better. I won't be teaching my children thermodynamics during this time, and we may not create the Lord of the Rings battle for Minis Tirith out of pipe cleaners, staples, and discarded fidget spinners while locked down. But maybe I can notice things about my world - particularly the people in my world, particularly my family - that I didn't see before this whole dry run for the apocalypse started.
Jesus did this. All the time. Just look at how he treated children around him. "He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37). Children in Jesus’ day were not Gerber babies, lovely, sweet, and cuddly. The only real worth they offered was their potential to become adults and whatever menial task they could perform for the family. A young child was on par with a slave, and only after reaching maturity was he or she a free person who could inherit the family estate. The term ‘child’ or ‘children’ could be used as a serious insult. Children were invisible. But Jesus never really followed cultural norms. Instead of ignoring the invisible, he gave them worth and dignity. He put them center stage in his Kingdom initiatives.
In the verses previous to these in Mark, the disciples want to know who is the MVD – the most valuable disciple. Jesus’ response is: “Do you see this child? The message is clear: “Start seeing the invisible.” Start seeing the invisible, not because it is virtuous to do so, not so that we can congratulate ourselves on being the greatest at seeing or so we can get any credit whatsoever. Start seeing the invisible because to receive the invisible is to receive Jesus, and to receive Jesus is to receive the one who sent him.
This isn't rocket science. It's not even the earth science that you might be tasked with helping your own child or grandchild with at home these days. This is simply ... seeing better. Longer, with more intentionality, less distraction, and with love.
I've started to pay more attention when people are talking - notice their expressions, look for things I didn't see before, and generally study the people (and world) around me. I've been noticing things about my children and my wife that make me incredibly thankful for who they are and who they are becoming. I've noticed things about myself - most of which I not thankful for (that I'm too busy, I don't often listen very well, and that their irritating expressions come mostly from me). I've been trying to see Jesus better too. That always leads to seeing everything better. I'm a richer man because of it.
During Covid, you don't need to change the world. But maybe you could start to see a little better. Try it - you'll be richer too.
A blog dedicated to encouraging you during this quarantine time!