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.