to see rightly

…it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace…” Hebrews 13:9 (ESV)

It’s barely light outside when we meet in the small dark room just outside the locked doors that lead to the hospital’s mental ward. Dressed in our student uniforms, from polished white shoes to the starched caps bobby-pinned securely in place on our heads, we’re nervously waiting to receive our assignments and begin a clinical rotation in psychiatry, but our instructor asks us to find a seat. Opening a book that she takes out of her bag, she begins reading to us from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.

Throughout our training to become professional nurses, we’ve been taught how to observe the human body and to document what we see with our eyes and do with our hands. Our instructor knows we need different skills for this rotation.

It is only with the heart that we see rightly.” She stops reading and looks up to make eye contact with each of us before continuing. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Closing the book, she gives us our individual patient assignments, and we begin a new experience as compassionate givers of care to those with wounds we cannot see.

It’s not scripture, those two lines from The Little Prince, but I know from I Samuel 16:7 that what we see with our eyes is not important because God is looking for a heart that’s bent toward Him. And when Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:18), he asks that “the eyes of (their) hearts (are) enlightened” that they would know all that God has done for them through Christ.

For six years, I keep a quote from the 17th century English pastor, John Flowers Serjeant, under the title of my blog as inspiration for my photography. “I must try and cultivate an eye for life’s mercies…” the quote begins, but I know I’ll never “rightly” see them until I see them with the eyes of a heart “strengthened by grace” and enlightened to the abundant mercies of God in Christ toward me.

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I'm a wannabe psalmist with a camera.

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  1. Sandra Heska King

    Stunning, my friend. And so much truth in this–“what is essential is invisible.”

    I would have loved your nursing instructor. Don’t you miss those white shoes and hair off the collar and bobby-pinned caps? (Well, I still have a couple caps.)

    • Unfortunately we only had that instructor for that rotation, but what a gift she was to me. Not only was her approach a profound one, but I have no memory of ever being read to as a child, so this was a new book to me. In a way, I miss those caps – like you said, we worked hard for them – but they also got in the way sometimes and keeping them in place on my head often gave me a headache. I remember the pride of graduating, passing boards and could then wear a new cap with a single black ribbon signifying my status as an RN. The white hose I could have done without. There’s nothing like the stress of getting ready for work (or class) only to discover that I had no white hose without a hole or run in it. =)

      • Sandra Heska King

        Ah, but what a money-saving feature those uniforms were…

        • This is true…except for the hose. =)

  2. Kelli Woodford

    oh, what a vision your instructor of long ago had.

    to live these words and give grace as i have received. beautiful, thoughtful post.

    • Isn’t that the truth, Kelli. It’s a truth that’s stuck with me through the years. Thank you.

  3. beautiful…I love the quote…oh yes…the lens of love…looking through another filter distorts how we interpret this life. blessings my friend.

    • Thank you so much, Ro. Blessings to you, too!

  4. Brandee Shafer

    The Saint-Exupery quote, I understand, was one of Mister Rogers’s very favorites.

    • Really – I didn’t know that – but I can believe it.

  5. Dear Patricia,
    You paint pictures with words as well as you capture life through a lens – I always see something better after spending time with you. Thank you! I love the Little Prince, and the Truth that relates. Lord, give us eyes to see…
    White hose would look so much nicer if you could just wear pink boots with them! ;o)

    • What a sweet thing to say! Thank you so much. Ah….pink boots would have been more fun, that’s for sure. You must have seen my Addisyn photos. She’s rarely without those boots.

  6. Oh my goodness, Patricia! This is a beautiful illustration of something I’ve been struggling to put into words recently–the way to minister to those whose wounds we can’t see. This is perfect. Thank you.

    • That means a lot, Nancy. Thank you so much.

  7. Thank you so much for this post, Patricia. It was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Your wise words and your beautiful photography are such a blessing!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Susan. They are a blessing to me.

  8. I so enjoyed this post because I learned a bit more about you … and about vision …

    • So sweet, beautiful Beth.

  9. What a beautiful way for your instructor to teach you to see rightly. I just wrote about this yesterday Patricia, but you’ve fleshed it out for me. Oh that I could always see with His eyes.

    • Me, too, Linda. Me, too. I wish I’d really learned that lesson those many years ago. Truthfully, I’m still learning.

  10. “wounds we cannot see.” I guess you learn to see them over time in psychiatry. Infused with the Spirit, what a skill to have for the service of others.


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