Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Sensing Lent 37: Eyes
The eyes have been described as the window to the soul. What we look upon has an effect upon us. According to the Sermon on the Mount, 'the eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness' (Matthew 6:22).
There's clearly something more than a physical description going on here - the eyes being used as a metaphor for wholesomeness in our perception, maybe? Perhaps it means that if we bring a jaundiced view to the world, we only see rottenness; if we 'see' with goodness, we bring that same quality to our experience of life...?
In today's gospel, Peter finds himself the object of Jesus' lingering gaze. It is a poignant moment, the one after Peter has denied his friend and Lord. One can only imagine what that gaze looked like - the searing eyes, the pain in them. People have tried to capture that gaze in paintings. No doubt his eyes also sought out the core of Peter when he lovingly reinstated him on the beach after the resurrection.
We often avoid each other's gaze, because it takes some courage to really try and see into what makes someone else tick, and let them do the same for you. A lingering gaze can mean all sorts of things, especially between genders, which we might shrink from. I was a bit flummoxed when one of the Bishops' Advisors on the selection conference I was on, after I shared something slightly personal, said 'I can tell from your eyes.' Frankly, that was going a bit far for me, especially as I didn't know him from Adam, even though I'm sure he had all the right spiritual, and probably psychological, training.
But I suppose you can tell things from looking into people's eyes. And thereby souls...It amuses me that when I'm out and about in the sunshine, sometimes without my collar and wearing sunglasses, lots of people don't recognise me at all. Occasionally that can feel rather nice.