A Poem for Seeing with Heart Eyes

Sometimes I think I see, and its a beautiful sight.

Somehow, I get a peek into something below life's surface: a friendship, my own heart, the big picture, the way of the world, grace. When that happens, I want to keep my eyes wide open.

"We were standing in the fields
Under a dreamsicle sky
A little row of houses
Without doors
Trying to remember why,
There was water and light
Music on the rise
Ribbons tied to cardboard
And pitchers pouring
Sunshine into our eyes"

Other times as my Mama would say, "I'm blind as a bat". By which she meant, 'I cannot see a bloomin' thing'. But being as blind as a bat, as it turns out, would be a good thing. If I were truly like a bat, I'd be using more of how I was made. I would "see" beyond my eyeballs. All of my senses would come together for direction - hearing, sense of smell and touch, nighttime vision, mapping abilities, even sonar.

I would see every blooming thing.

Mamas have it, this seeing. I will never forget the first time I saw this fine tuned radar in practice. It was a time before I became a mama. We were visiting friends who had two small boys and the boys came running through the living room with plastic bags as capes, or so I thought. They had put their arms through the bag holes and when they ran the wind filled the bags.

In the plastic whir and blur, their mama said, "Boys, you better not be jumping off those bunkbeds." The boys stopped dead in their skydiver tracks.

Busted.

That mama knew those bags were parachutes.

This kind of sight is seeing with the eyes of your heart, the not so obvious. If I see with my heart eyes, I am paying attention both inwardly and outwardly. I am seeing through the gifts of my imperfection and God's mighty creative way.

To see with my heart eyes, I have to unclench my heart and my hands and open toward God's heart. This seeing is from within trusted relationship. Holding hands as we look together, Jesus and I see what cannot be seen with my eyes alone.

Another side of this kind of sight is seeing things as if you have never seen them even though you have.

Every once in awhile, looking at something familiar, I see it for the first time. It might be the way the light bounces or the angle of my approach that day. I might be in the company of a new friend or in a different season. Whatever the reason, I see something I have never seen before in something I have seen many times before.

It's an aha moment. It happens for me when I read and re-read my Bible and when I tread and re-tread my familiar paths with my heart awake.

I have an affinity for manzanita, a wild shrub in Oregon along the coast and across the mountains. Mike and I love the bright green leaves and dark red twisted branches. Even the name is sweet - "little apple". Manzanita wreaths are a favorite of mine.

On a walk one day, I noticed tiny blush bells hanging in clusters off of the manzanita bushes along the road. A flowering manzanita. I snapped a photo and sent it to Mike.

How had we missed the blooms?

Had the elevation changed or the season or was I just paying attention on this walk?

On a good day, I see bursts of color and fine details. I feel found. On a bad day, I can only see the grey, the white out, the blizzard. I don't like what I see. I feel lost.

"Wasn’t I the one no one wanted
Left here in the dark
Waiting in the downpour
It’s outside in the fields
That lightning sparks,
Your voice came in the rain
In the crying sky
I heard it falling down
Song notes on my face
Silver tears in my black eye"

But on the best day, I know I am lost and found. Like the wise farmer in the snow storm, I am tethered to the barn by a strong rope. I can "see" by feeling my way home along the rope.

For weeks at time, I kept reading and re-reading about the blind man in John 9. Even when I read past his story, the next morning I would find myself right back where I was the day before. You could say I was stuck. I decided I was taking my time, making a familiar path.

The man was blind from the day he was born, maybe even before. Jesus was walking with his disciples when they met the blind man on the road. Jesus made a mud compress and slathered it on his broken eyes, then sent him to the pool to wash.

I don't know whether he stumbled around with mud on his face getting back to the pool or his friends helped him find it. (I like to think his friends helped.) All I know is he came back from washing in that pool, a seeing man.

Oh joy!

Oh, celebration for days!

Oh, awe and wonder at the miracle!

Oh, big wide smiles until your face hurts!

But that is not what happened.

The man was interrogated. His family questioned. He was interrogated again, then slandered. Finally, he was locked out of the sanctuary.

The sanctuary.

That's the part I had never seen before. What should have been an all out celebration of healing, a whoop hollering party for a miracle that had never been seen before (pun intended), was met with rejection, sadness and a slamming door. A whole lot of blindness.

Just when the blind man could finally see, the leaders looked straight at him with a blind eye. When the now-seeing man was thrown out of the place he thought he would finally be welcome, Jesus came looking for him.

Somehow, seeing and being found are connected.

Jesus saw with the eyes of His heart, His Father's heart. He was trying to get the people He met to see this way too. He is always trying to get me to see with the eyes of my heart, to see through my Father's eyes. It usually takes some slowing down.

Some days I think I see, just a little. But I get in my own way alot.

I think that is the starting place for heart seeing, to admit I cannot see. Thankfully, Jesus is patient when I am short-sighted. Seems He saw my blindness coming a mile away. Even before I see, God meets me there, however far I've gotten (or not gotten) in my seeing. I turn around and Jesus has already found me. Then we can see together. He can be my rope tethered to the barn.

"You lay down your heart
You lay it down for me
You lay down your heart and set me free"

I wrote this poem from the eyes of the blind man in John 9. As I read the story again and again, I tried to use the eyes of my heart, and see. Really see. I had to look at it all, the beauty, the sadness, the seeing eyes and the blind eyes - the threat of a miracle if you already have all the answers.

One thing I saw - how I don't want to be the girl who thought she could see, but was blind most of all.

That is why I sat in the story for weeks. There was something there, something I needed to see and couldn't quite see yet. A flowering manzanita.

Here is the completed poem. I call it Silver Tears.

It is a poem for seeing, a poem for seeing after not seeing, a poem for seeing with heart eyes.

Silver Tears
by Terri Conlin

We were standing in the fields
Under a dreamsicle sky
A little row of houses
Without doors
Trying to remember why,
There was water and light
Music on the rise
Ribbons tied to cardboard
And pitchers pouring
Sunshine into our eyes

You lay down your heart
You lay it down for me
You lay down your heart and set me free

Wasn’t I the one no one wanted
Left here in the dark
Waiting in the downpour
It’s outside in the fields
That lightning sparks,
Your voice came in the rain
In the crying sky
I heard it falling down
Song notes on my face
Silver tears in my black eye

You lay down your heart
You lay it down for me
You lay down your heart and set me free

Didn’t you cry my tears first
Into your pocket sewn
Looking ‘til you found me
Until you were known
By your very own,
When I open the door to singing
I forget my eyelash scars
They are feathers on the scale
I can see now
Silver tears become stars

Now I lay down my heart
Now I lay it down for you
Now I lay down my heart and walk on through

My poem echoes Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, for us,

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you . . ,