Before I started wearing glasses, lo twenty-some years ago, I didn’t realize that a person was supposed to be able to see leaves on trees. I’ll never forget riding home in the backseat from the appointment where I received my first pair of glasses; I marveled at how sharp and clear the whole world was.
Recently, I’ve started running again and sometimes while on a walk, exercising my monster (dog), I’ll be hit with a desire to run–when that happens to you, no matter what you’re wearing, you go with it–and as I speed up, my glasses bounce and then slide down my nose. To get a little graphic, sweat makes them all slippery, and the tickle-itch on my nose just isn’t worth intermittently clear vision–so I take my glasses off and hook them to my shirt.
As you easily suppose from my account above, my vision is seriously bad. I can only see clearly about 6 inches in front of my face. When I take off my glasses and run, my focus inadvertently shifts from the ground and scenery in front of me to my breath, my posture, and each step I take as it happens. Because of the fuzziness of everything around me, my attention is pulled closer to home–I notice my lungs, my chest, my legs, my arms. Instead of making the challenge of running more acute, this shift almost always leads to a sort of euphoria. “Stuck” in the moment and in my body–literally unable to see too far ahead, I am free to enjoy the deep breaths my body is taking of its own accord, the strength of my legs pumping beneath me, the feeling of sunlight on my face and shoulders, the blue and green wash of colors in front of me.
Isn’t life the same way? Too often, I’m distracted by the itchy, imperfect details of life far off in the distance, determined to discern each leaf and each pebble within the range of my view. When I consciously take off my life-glasses, shutting my eyes to the shortcomings I perceive in people and situations outside of myself, I’m able to focus on what’s knocking around inside me. It’s the stuff inside me that I’m actually able to do something about–noticing my pride or my prejudice or my anxiety leads me to repentance and amendment of life.
Taking off my spectacles while running is a way for me to work on the logs in my own eyes instead of spotting specks in others’ lives. As I continually take time to focus on myself–on my own sins, instead of others’–I hope that this practice becomes habit, and maybe even develops into an ingrained response.
By cultivating a new knee-jerk reaction to life’s experiences, I’m aware of a deeper, more stable, holier river of energy at work in the world–the only way we can really pay attention to God’s work in the world is to start with listening to how God is transforming us. God’s whisper calls to you–how are you called to live? who are you called to love? where are you called to serve?
(and here, reflecting on almost the same exact thing–through yoga–almost exactly two years ago…)