Through the lens

In the years before becoming a Unity minister I worked in senior care. Working with the senior community was so very meaningfully rich in experience and rewards.

Very quickly I fell in love with the residents I met. I sat with them to hear their life stories. I savored their sharing of the historical importance of their prized possessions. Each story held the magic of a treasured memory. By now, their possessions had been thoughtfully whittled down to what would comfortably fit in their room at the nursing home or a small assisted living apartment.
I heard heart wrenching stories of loves and families lost. I heard of wars and vanished dreams and more. I heard the beautiful love stories of elementary school mates who became high-school sweethearts and in time made forever vows. I heard of deep rich life-long friendships that transcended time and space.

Over the years I met retired doctors, teachers and home-makers. I met widows, widowers, and newlyweds. I met Holocaust survivors and a father & son team were both purple heart recipients from their days in Viet Nam. I met prima ballerinas, runway models and garment workers. I sat with some in their final moments and wrapped their families in my arms in a vain attempt to comfort their grieving hearts.

My years working with senior communities molded my life in many ways, all for which I am enormously grateful. I am who I am today, in part, because of the wisdom and inspiration of the amazing people I met though those twenty-five years of being touched by the white-haired angels.

As I talked with many of the residents, I noticed that the glasses they wore often showed smudges of fingerprints and sometimes residue from their day. Younger people who worked as care givers had the benefit of youthful clear vision and didn’t give much thought to the care of eyeglasses. This was an easy oversight. Yet I wore glasses since age six or seven and I was rather sensitive to the messy lens of my seniors.

I began carrying lens cleaners everywhere I went and cleaned the eye glasses of as many people as possible. Each time a resident peered through freshly cleaned glasses a smile lit up their face which only encouraged me to clean more pairs of glasses! “My room is so much brighter- who turned on the lights!” they would exclaim with guileless astonishment. “No wonder everything looked gray!” another would laughingly say. “I wondered where I left that sweater, I just couldn’t see it.” And so, it went, each one in awe of what their surroundings looked like through the clean clear lens.
It is the same with our lives. Whether we wear corrective lens or have great sight without them, sometimes our vision can be clouded by hurt feelings or the weariness of life’s burdens. Sometimes our field of vision is fuzzy because of age old resentments, too long held judgments, inflexible perceptions, or an unforgiving heart.

Sometimes we are so fixed on what we think we see in our world and in our lives that we have no room to change our point of view for a new vision. Each of us likely have places in our lives that our vision is unclear. I devote time to explore the areas and relationships in my life and as I look with vulnerable honesty, I come upon places that my vision is indeed marred and unclear.
Slowly, I remove the eyeglasses through which I view my life and my world. I clean them and remove all debris that obstructs a clear view and I gently place them on my face again. I am now poised to see the world and each person through the lens of what is true, honorable, and good. This is how Divine Creator sees me. What an amazing difference it is to look at all of life through the lens of goodness. Rather than assuming negativity or miss trusting, I am able to assume goodness in everyone and everything I see. By doing so, in time, goodness will be!
This is not merely a naive Pollyanna existence. If I focus on the negative then negative will continue to grow and consume my life. if I choose to see the positive, this too will grow and consume my life. Given the choice, I choose the positive.

Give it a try! There is nothing to lose except a few negative thoughts and dusty fingerprints on the lens through which we view life.