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Look and See

When it comes to the most important things in life, we all have a form of attention deficit disorder.”  - Sam the Turtle, renowned armchair philosopher and political analyst

Stand still and see!”  - Moses,  just before the sea split

Look Again

When I was growing up, it often happened that I would misplace things, and that didn’t exactly go over big with my parents. After combing my bedroom or the backyard, I would sheepishly declare to my mother, “It’s not there, I looked everywhere.”  And my mother’s reply was always the same:  “Sam, go look again; and this time look with your eyes open.”  And guess what?  I almost always found what I was looking for. These days, I find myself echoing my mothers words to our youngest son.

From Moses to My Mother

Picture this scene:  You and two million other Jews have just been liberated from bondage in Egypt.  You’ve been in the desert for a week, Pharaoh has decided he wants you back, and the Egyptian army is barreling down on you.  Yikes!  You are really hoping that Moses has one more good plague up his sleeve.  And, thank God, he does.  Moses climbs up on a big rock by the edge of the sea, and with the wind blowing at his back, lifts his staff and addresses the nation; (Somebody should make a movie out of this.)  “Stand still and see,” he tells the people, “God Himself is about to rescue you…”

Stand still and see?  What’s that supposed to mean?  And what if they wouldn’t “stand still,” would they then not be able to see something?  I mean this is the splitting of the sea, who could miss that even if they weren’t standing still?

At that moment, Moses was teaching the Jewish people that it is possible to witness an event but not see what took place. It’s possible to look and yet to have our eyes shut.  Moses didn’t just want them to notice that the sea had split, he wanted them to see: To perceive, reflect upon and internalize the fullness of the experience and it’s meaning.  He wanted that event to make a profound and lasting impression on them, and for that, they would have to stand still.

What Will I See Today

Paying attention is a lost art. The ability to stand still and see is a delicate and invaluable discipline that opens us up to appreciating and absorbing much of the beauty, wisdom and wonder of life. We often overlook the endless wonders around us because we simply don’t know how to take notice.

If you do nothing else today, take a few minutes to Stand still and see.

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Comments icon May 10, 2009


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