The Eyes Have It

Father of the Eye - HDR
Image by ~Dezz~ via Flickr

In the book of Luke, Jesus seems to be urging his followers to take a stand for what is important.  He says, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or crypt or under a bushel measure, but on a lampstand, that those who are coming in may see the light.”

“Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound and fufilling its office your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound and is not fufilling its office, your body is full of darkness.”

I’ve been contemplating that second part today.  The idea that the eye is the lamp of the body is pretty interesting.  It seems like Jesus is saying that the eye is the most important thing.  When it is functioning correctly, all will go well.  When it is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, all will go poorly.

It’s almost a paradox.  Because through the eyes we take in much of what we know about the world.  Yet Jesus is saying that the eyes are the place that we can either bring light or darkness into the world. 

I think maybe the deal is this: we choose what we put our eyes on.  We do this quite literally all the time.  Do we choose to stare at things that arouse the worst parts of us?  Do we choose to look at things that might lead to cynacism, inpurity, despair in a physical and direct way?  Or do we turn our sights upward.  Do we look at things that make us stronger and better people?

And of course, if this is all true in a literal sense, it’s so much more true symbolically.  Where do we cast our vision?  Where are we looking to end up spiritually?

If I understand Jesus correctly, he’s saying that the places where we look determine the place where we go.  And the places where we go, these determine the very nature of the light or darkness that we carry within.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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