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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seeing Clearly

What do you see when you look out of the window you look out of most?

That question, long a favorite journal topic when I teach a writing class, has become a brand new question for me. Last week, the glass in the window I look out of most was replaced. The seal between the double panes of glass had been compromised, so that over a period of years, the glass had become increasingly cloudy. Now, however, with new glass in place, whatever I see, I see clearly.

Yesterday, that was mostly birds—cardinals, Carolina chickadees, goldfinches. Never have their colors and shapes looked so lovely, at least not out this window, not for a long time. Overnight we had a storm, and this morning, even the raindrops clinging to the panes looked clearer than ever before.

So I have been thinking how good it is to see clearly—which in turn has gotten me thinking not only about physical windows but also about metaphysical ones, the “inner” windows through which I view the rest of the world. How easily they too become clouded. All it takes is a little pride, a little prejudice, a little pain, a little impatience seeping in around the edges….

And I begin jumping to conclusions. I become self-righteous, self-indulgent, defensive, or self-important. I fail to see that it is my window that has gotten cloudy or to realize that I am the one not seeing a person or situation quite as clearly as I might.

Sometimes checking things out with a friend helps restore perspective. Sometimes remembering a Bible story or re-reading a favorite poem brings some little clarity. When those things happen, it is almost like installing new glass.

How about you? What do you see when you look out of the window you look out of most? And what do you do when you want to see more clearly?

Angier Brock

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