December 19, 2015 | Reflections from Sr Antonia
Living in the canyon for two years whilst helping at our foundation of Our Lady of the Desert, New Mexico, USA, brought home to me just how upsidedown things can be "down under". I had become aware over there of how the liturgical seasons are reflected in nature. Easter was vibrant with the new life of spring, bursting with yellows, blues and greens, breathtakingly beautiful, whilst here in Australia at Easter time things are dying as autumn unfolds. At least that is how I had been seeing it…until now.
This week my eyes were opened to a marvel which had hitherto escaped my attention. Advent's purple/blue is absolutely everywhere in our Abbey gardens as this beautiful liturgical season unfolds. For once liturgy and nature mirrored each other in the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. Agapanthus, hydrangea and lilies yes, but it was the jacaranda in particular that had stunned me into making the connection. It was the morning after we had had a heavy rainfall overnight and some flowers from the branches of the jacaranda were strewn on the lawn, with others still on the tree. A few were even providing the statue of Our Lady with a blue cloak!
(Unfortunately by the time this photo was taken the wind had swept them from the statue).
The revelation however made me wonder about what else it is that I miss, what else there is that I do not see. Do I see the beauty beneath the surface of every human being for instance, a beauty hidden from my eyes simply because I am too preoccupied within my own narrow world? Am I too caught up in my own needs, my own pain, my own self, in ME? Or worse, am I caught up in my own prejudice, my judgments, my critical thoughts?
Spiritual seeing is something I have been reflecting on lately, so the moment with the jacaranda was a graced moment. What does it mean to 'see' deep down in my heart? Does seeing with my inner eye differ from hearing with my inner ear? We are all familiar with St. Benedict's injunction to "listen with the ear of our heart" but now I was wondering if he also asks us to 'see' with our inner eye. I did remember that in the Prologue he asks us to "open our eyes to the light that comes from God". (RB Pro.9). And… if we see that a task is altogether too much for our strength we go to the Abbess and talk to her about it. (Ch. 68)
So, seeing is not simply a function of our physical body, of our eyes… it also relates to soul. What do I mean when I say 'I see' after someone has explained something? We see the world around us with our physical eyes, but we also have foresight, hindsight and insight. And all of these are indispensable for seeing at another level.
There are references to an inner seeing in the bible as well. The prophet Balaam says: "My vision is not of this time, is not of the things that meet my eyes". Numbers 24:16
Jesus said: "Though they have eyes they cannot see". Matt: 13:13
Jesus could 'see' into people's hearts. He looked with 'soft eyes' filled with compassion, with wisdom understanding, knowledge and integrity but above all with mercy, at every human being.
Advent has called me forth to try to look with new eyes upon all of God's creation, but especially upon his people. I pray that my seeing will reveal to me all that had hitherto been hidden, that I may listen with my inner ear in order to see with my inner eye.
"Lord that I may see".