He does not speak of the “physiological sensitivity of the human eye”, but of “the spiritual capacity to perceive visible reality as it really is”.
In the chapter “Learning to See Again”, taken from a lecture in 1952, Pieper offers reasons for this lack of “sight”, including, quite simply, that “there is too much to see”, we preventing us from grasping what is most true.
Before that, he says, we have lost our ability to see, noting that “… the most perfect expression of life, the deepest satisfaction and the fullest realization of human existence” occur “in a moment of contemplation… ”.
Pieper turns to the artist for further illustration, explaining that before an artist can express anything in tangible form, she first needs “eyes to see”. This is true even in writing, he says. “We feel the intensity of observation required just to say, ‘The girl’s eyes were shining like wet currants,’ referring to a line by Leo Tolstoy.
Not only the artist, but everyone should take the time to enter into this “intensity of observation” to see the truth, not to say transmit it. But how do you do this in a busy world?
During an October retreat to a monastery in Hankinson, North Dakota, I found on my bedside table a small card supported by these words from Saint Faustina Kowalska: “Patience, Prayer and Silence , this is what gives strength to the soul. Here I discovered an answer to my question.
So in January, I began to dive deeper into my prayer life, accepting an invitation to start following a new podcast, “The Bible in a Year” from Ascension, with Father Mike Schmitz of Duluth, Minn. Then, for Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband a DVD guiding couples in learning to pray together. Now, in addition to reading the Bible separately with Father Mike, we began to end each night with prayer – a gift that brought untold graces in our marriage.
You would think that would be enough, but I recently said “yes” to the invitation of Elizabeth Kelly, professor and spiritual director of St. Thomas University, to participate in a summer prayer workshop in line using “lectio divina”, a form of imaginative and contemplative prayer. with Scripture, with others across the country, requiring another hour of daily prayer.
As I assess all of these prayer commitments, I realize that while this may sound like a lot, my soul is thirsty and my eyes yearn to “see” more than has been possible in these past few months of activity and constant activity.
I look forward to having the chance to retire this summer with the words of God and the gift of time, in the hope that my eyes might become more attentive to what has been hidden from view, but that, I guess , God is eager to reveal, with the richness and meaning that come with all of His good gifts.
Please pray that through this I can “see” more. I will pray for you.
Salonen, wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker at Fargo. Email him at [email protected] and check out more of his work on Peace Garden Passage, http://roxanesalonen.com/