One of my favorite childhood books was Ferdinand, the story of a contemplative Spanish bull who preferred sitting under a cork tree and smelling flowers over running and butting and participating in bullfights. I have four framed pages from the book on my office walls today.
And when I grew a bit older, I found a poem (Ferdinand would have loved it) that ended:
“A poor life this, if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.” (“Leisure” by William Davies)
(I recall quoting this to my industrious mother – she had probably just asked me to do something – and getting a less-than-empathetic look in return).
But college…work…marriage…children….and life tended to lose its margins. Its resting-places and sit-down spots. In time, I was (unlike Ferdinand) up and running and butting and jumping into bullfights.
And I wonder… how much of life has passed me by because I became so oblivious? I don’t know about you, but too often I tend to look through people. Over them. Around them. At the checkout I can be intent on getting my purchase and moving on. At church I can be intent on my own spiritual needs, my own family or clique.
But in a recent study through the book of Mark, I saw that Jesus was a contemplative, a noticer. He saw those who were insignificant and overlooked. He picked up on details. He looked into the heart.
He watched the widow at the temple treasury and noted the comparative size of her two-mite offering. He saw the potential in a mustard seed and a small child. He was so like His Father, who counts hairs and collects teardrops.
If that is what Jesus was like, how can I be more like him? I don’t think I should plant a cork tree out back and ruminate under it every day. But I do think I can look – really look – at the people who cross my path. At what they are doing, what they seem to be thinking and feeling, what they need, how they are doing life. At how God sees them and how they appear to me through His eyes.
I can do what Jesus repeatedly urged: “Watch! Keep awake! Stay alert!” I can become intentional about it – walk through my day and notice, really notice people. Walk my neighborhood and pay close attention to my surroundings. Observe keenly. Look for the miracle, the potential, the wonder, the need…
Whether my life is “full of care” or moving along pretty well today, I’m feeling the need to make time to stand and stare. How about you?