Make me a seer! Not the kind that sees the future, but kind that sees the present. One that really sees the present. One that sees under the surface of politics, niceness, neatness, coverups, the games people play, the games I play, the things people say that they don’t really mean, the things I say that I don’t really mean, the discrepancy between the saying and the doing etc.
Is this not the primary role of the spiritual leader in a community? Is this not the source of all spiritual leadership? Is it not true that without seeing the spiritual leader becomes a mere religious functionary? What else does ‘the blind leading the blind’ mean? To me, it suggests that seeing is kind of a big deal for a leader! (It also suggests why we don’t want to do that very much: once you see, you can’t un-see.)
Of course I’m not talking about merely engaging your visual cortex. That should be obvious from the first paragraph. It is also about seeing with your ears, with your heart, with your hands, with your mind, with your whole body. It’s really about wholeness, which is actually the goal of Christian spirituality. Or so it should be. It is about integration.
But seeing is difficult. First of all, one may see things they would rather not see. One may have to wake up to impossible situations, hopeless conundrums, unsolvable predicaments. Upon seeing the real reality, one may come face to face with a desperation that says: “I don’t know what to do about this!” And then it’s evil twin: “I SHOULD know!” – The first one is guilt, the second one is shame. The first one is the work of the Spirit. The second one is the work of Satan (the Accuser in Hebrew).
So, in order to avoid being in such a place, we prefer not to see. Or at least become so busy and involved, that our whole attention is drawn to the doing, rather than any degree of seeing. I am busy, thus I am significant. My agenda is full, thus people will like me because I’m seen to be working hard. If I ever stopped and took time to really see, they may not like what I’m describing. I may also discover that my identity is far too linked to my doings. Could there be an agenda running in the background that I cannot see?
Also, you cannot see if you do not take time to see. That requires stillness, openness, space and, most of all, courage. Brene Brown talks about courage coming from the word cor in Latin, which means heart. The heart can see things that the mind flat-out refuses to acknowledge. The mind notices the pain in the heart, and takes over by strategising and distracting. Most of our internal conflicts come from the refusal to see reality for what it is. We pretend, we play, we dress it up, we distract, we rationalise, we drink, we eat, we party, we fantasise, we buy, we force a smile…
Seeing is scary. It is scary because I cannot see the other, until I can truly see myself. And who wants to really see themselves? I would much rather reach for the speck in my neighbour’s eye than deal with the log in mine. It’s funny how we can see the speck through the log. How contradictory and messed up is that? And yet we do that all the time. That is why seeing takes courage.
But why bother to see if that may lead to that painful place where you throw your arms in the air and scream: “I don’t know what to do about this!” But we do have to get to that point as spiritual leaders, because that is where we turn it over to the One who sees all, and we can then plead: “Show me!” You can’t get to that point without seeing with your whole being.
Make me a seer! Not the kind that sees the future, but kind that sees the present.