When mom was getting ready to go out somewhere she would inevitably ask dad, “How do I look?” With a peck on her cheek he would answer, “You always look beautiful to me.” Recently a young man preparing to start a ranching life with his young bride was asked when he thought she was the most beautiful. “When she is operating machinery,” he responded quickly. Now both these men were very wise. Their answers were not going to get them in trouble. Even though we know the truth about how we look at any time, we women always respond to a man’s compliment. It was just the same when mom was straightening dad’s tie and giving him an appraising eye before she sent him out the door to teach each morning, with love in her eyes and a peck on his cheek.
Maybe I have been thinking about the line “seeing with the eyes of love” because I’ve been traveling of late in places where the milling throngs are representative of everywhere in the world. I was amazed at how seldom I saw anger or frustration or heard heated words whatever language. People were hot and tired. You could tell by looking at their faces. But even when dealing with tired or fussy children there was an incredible amount of patience.
We took turns standing patiently and quietly in rest room lines and food lines. We offered to take pictures of each other so you had a group shot for your album. If someone dropped something, someone picked it up so you wouldn’t lose it. If you caught someone’s eye you smiled. The day after the Orlando shootings we were sitting in a hotel lobby with many others eating breakfast. All eyes were on the television and the horrific shots from the carnage. People spoke quietly while others read the newspaper headlines that lay scattered around the lobby. As we continued traveling we soon noticed the many flags at half staff and also graffiti comments remembering the fallen. As in other times in America’s history, when tragedies occur, we seemed to be as one.
Seeing “with the eyes of love”. I watched a group of Japanese tourists help one of their own, a disabled young woman. I saw seniors pushed in wheel chairs or walking with children or grand children or with walkers and no one pushed them aside or bumped them if it was possible. The same care was taken of young parents with small children. The watchword seemed to be “No rush.” As I was descending a couple of stairs I stumbled slightly and immediately an older gentleman shot out his hand to grab my arm and let me lean on him for an instant before we both moved on. Chivalry is not dead!
Seeing “with the eyes of love” is a way of living life not just an occasional thing. No one is too old or too young or too poor or too rich. St. Paul says, “There is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, but all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Seeing “with the eyes of love” was in evidence all around me. It was seeping into my bones. It was very good.
When I walk I try never to listen to anything more than the street noises around me such as the birds singing or the laughter of children. I want my full attention focused on the natural world. Actually there is a safety element in this since I want to hear every vehicle that is coming up on me from behind, but more importantly I don’t want to miss anything that might connect me to my world of the moment. Being without extraneous noise running through my brain also sharpens my vision and I notice details that make my walk more interesting. It was a silly thing, but the other day, I noticed a screen door on a house I was passing by. Now a screen door is not a storm door. A screen door is a large piece of metal screen attached to a usually flimsy door frame that covers the entrances to houses in the summer time. The job of a screen is to let air in and keep bugs out. When we were kids (circa 1950s, 1960s) the sound of screen doors slamming on the block was characteristic of summer. Kids were in and out all day long and every time they left the house to play the screen door would bang shut and Mother would call, “Try not to bang the screen door on your way out”, but always to no avail. This screen door I saw had the obligatory piece in the middle that you pushed on going out so you wouldn’t poke your hand through the screen or cause the screen to begin to bend out. The one I saw was rather ornate. It had some small spindles and was painted white.
Back in “those days” no one had air conditioning or if you did, it was a swamp cooler that cooled off one room or maybe two so that is where everyone gathered in the house on the hottest days. The screen door did let in hot air but more importantly it let in any errant breezes that happened by and a breeze was absolutely heaven on a hot day. To see the curtains around the window stir and begin to move in the breeze that was blowing through the house was better than a cooler or a fan because it was a natural occasion. Seeing the curtains move you actually felt cooler. And when the sun set you could feel the air current was cooler. The screen door usually had a latch at the top you could hook. In a more secure time you could leave the door open at night and let the cooler night air blow through. When you latched the screen door from the inside you were safe.
Life was more neighborly with banging screen doors. Open doors meant that everyone in the neighborhood could call out to one another or to their children. Today’s central air as well as computers and other bits of technology keep us tightly in doors. Locked away from each other our desire for security is more than the protection of a piece of screen attached to a wooden frame can evoke. Too bad!