About seeing… REALLY SEEING

Artwork © by Peter Brown

Artwork © by Peter Brown

When a child comes into being, he is truly in his parents and they are in him. There is a union that is powerful and provides an important life lesson.

When the child is two years old, he imagines the world revolving around him. “I will go get my ball whether Mom likes it or not…because I want to,” he thinks. But Mom SEES the cars and knows they come down the street fast. She stops the child, who wails unhappily.

When the child is five, she is in school and adamant that she knows more than her parents.  “I already know that,” she stamps her feet as Dad asks her to recite the alphabet. But Dad SEES that she is mixing up some of the letters when she reads, so he tells her, “Let’s go over it again just because.”

When the child is twelve, almost a teenager, he plans a big night, with complete confidence that he can do this. As he grabs the car keys and cracks open the door, a bit of moonlight streams in. But Mom hears everything and before the key is in the ignition, she is there. She SEES the plan that was about to unfold and she will not let it happen.

When the child is 18, she tells Dad in a voice of complete authority, “There has never been such a dry summer in the history of this town.” He smiles. He has SEEN many summers, enough to know that some are wet and some are dry. He reminds her that she is still young, although she does not want to hear it.

Life is really about learning to SEE this: We each are simply a minor part in the bigger scheme of things. This truth is not deflating if understood. We are united with Something much bigger. In the laboratory of the family, we slowly learn that we are in our parents and our parents are in us. There is this binding connection that offers security and a glimpse of a bigger picture.

At each stage in life, we amazingly think we know more than we really do. But we cannot really SEE the big picture because it is bigger than we are. In childhood, there was always Something Bigger (in the laboratory it should be our parents), that could intervene to keep us safe and call us back to the truth that exists beyond the ego of the self.

Beyond the laboratory, we are still learning to See and the process continues until after death. But in the modern world there are grownups who think they can define reality just like the two year old or the eighteen year old, without reference to Something Bigger. This is a big problem.

God gave us the laboratory of Family so that we would know there is really Someone who SEES All. Parents see the cars, the friends, the history of the community. They help us learn to trust in the bigger vision of God, who sees even more than the best parent!

Jesus came to St. Faustina so that she could remind us that we remain as children before God. We are in Him and He is in us. We are connected it is more like being a cell within a body. We must trust in Him because He sees what we cannot. Occasionally, He opens our eyes so that we glimpse a bit more.

St. Cyril of Alexandria described this relationship of union in the early part of the 5th century. He wrote, “If, in Christ, all of us, both ourselves and He who is within by His own flesh, are members of the same body, is it not clear that we are one, both with one another and with Christ? He is the bond that unites us, because he is at once both God and man.”

Family is necessary as the laboratory for learning this great truth. As much as possible we need to support families and pray for the institution of the Family to be strengthened rather than demolished. Throughout life we remain like children striving to learn and grow in wisdom but never achieving the Big vision. For this reason, we rely on the history and wisdom of the Church which began with the Christ who is God and who is the One in whom “we live and move and have our being.”


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About the Author

Judith Costello, MA, OCDS was a Catholic Worker and a catechist as a young adult. Then the feminist movement called to her during the 1970s-1990s and she fell away from the faith. She was sure, during those years that being a "good person" was all that God expects of us. Over the years, pride and politics took her farther and farther from the truth that God asks us to live in virtue, offer sacrifices, and come closer to Him in the sacraments.

After a divorce, Judith met a man who encouraged her to to Come Home. Judith and Jurgen now live on a small farm with two teenagers and lots of animals. Along with the children, Judith is active in the Church as a catechist, lector and sacristan. They take care of Jurgen who is now in poor health. Judith is a secular Carmelite and author of two books on Prayer and Mariology. She writes curriculum lessons for www.catechismclass.com. Her artwork in featured at www.flickr.com/photos/faithart/ and on Facebook. Judith blogs at CatholicMom.com.

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