Open Your Eyes

One of the best college classes I ever took was one that I didn't really want to take.  

Because of graduation requirements, I had to take either Art Appreciation or something so lame that I've forgotten it since then. 

I do recall that I reluctantly signed up to take the art class, grumbling that I had to and that it was held at night. 

It didn't take long before I realized that night class was the highlight of my week. 

Now, I don't ever use the kind of math I had to learn in college to graduate, but I have gotten the most out of that Art Appreciation class and then some.  I'll need to explain how. 

I love museums, particularly art museums. 

I have been blessed to visit some of the world's most famous art museums, including the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Galleries in London and Edinburgh, and many more. 

Because of the class, I took many years ago, I learned about the various movements within art history and appreciated how the great artists within each movement viewed the world and expressed what they saw through their art. 

So now, when I visit an art museum, I see the world differently through the eyes of artists from across history, various cultures, and perspectives. 

I don't get hung up on style issues; I just take what the artist is describing and let it instruct me.  

The other day, I read this quote from John Ruskin's 19th-century classic Modern Painters, and it resonated with me: 

The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way.  Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion--all in one. 

For Ruskin, the great artists knew how to do this and did it well enough that one would be left thinking deeply about their creation long after seeing it. 

Each of us has been given the ability to see, but we only sometimes tap into it.  

We would rather not delve into the emotions that truly seeing the world around us might elicit, so we prefer to stay on the surface of our feelings and deny our own observations. 

Or we become so burdened by the cares of this world, filled with anxiety and worry, dread and fear, that we journey through life, head down, eyes barely opened, resignedly putting one foot in front of the other.  

But just as all it took for me was a class where I learned how to appreciate the artist's eyes, for those of us who say we follow Jesus, there is more than a bit of instruction on how to do the same with the world around us. 

Jesus taught his followers that there was so much more under the surface of what we merely observe, and for those who were willing to truly see, there was a universe of meaning. 

So practice opening your eyes today.  

Shut out all the noise and voices in your head (if you have them, like me), push back from the naysayers, Negative Nellies, Eeyores, or anyone who would pooh-pooh your way of seeing the world. 

And then don't be afraid to share what you see.  You never know who needs to see through your eyes for a while because their own might be clouded for the moment. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.  


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