Non-Fiction Musings

Reflections of the Unseen

Much in this world is a reflection of the unseen, or what lies beneath the surface. Take for instance a barren tree: a mass of trunk, branches and twigs—woven in a complexity that mirrors what is below the surface –the same tangled pattern of the roots. So both that which is collecting life and that which is displaying life are a reflection of each other. Of course as we know, that which is below the surface, the unseen, is much deeper, wider and intricate: especially true of the root system of trees bearing fruit. It is the same with other such reflections in this world. The unseen is more profound. But what is physical and evident to us, leads us to understand the unseen.

I’ve been thinking about this reflective nature in terms of my future lately. My future is unforeseeable. Yet we pretend to see the future. We make all kinds of plans for the future as if we can see it, as if we’re constructing it for ourselves. Let’s transition to the physical reflection of this abstract. I am near-sighted. My eyesight is so bad I can only see with clarity what is right in front of my face. Everything else is a gradient abstraction: a field of colors and shadows with puddles of light.

For a long time, I resented my poor eyesight and would pray to wake up with perfect vision. In the same way, I have tried to see the future, and prayed for “insight.” But these prayers are the same. And the answer to both prayers was given in the summer of 2008 when I stepped into the new international airport in Beijing. For those of you who have not visited this airport—it's a wonder to behold! As you walk in, you are confronted with a colossal cavern ribbed with rafters each bearing what from your vantage point looks like a string of Christmas lights. This legion of lights bounce off the brilliant floors and give a sense of the ethereal. Everyone gasps as they step through the entry. I had a 9 hour layover in this airport. At one point I took my glasses off to clean them and froze. Light stretches with my nearsightedness; what I was beholding with my bad vision was more than incredible: like the light from another universe. And I honestly feel sorry for you if you do visit this airport and don’t have near-sightedness. Again last September, as I took in the Chicago skyline from my 11th floor hotel room, I was impressed. When I took off my glasses, the whole scene transformed into the fantastic. Vision in the form it has been handed to me transforms the world into a stunning scene of twinkling orbs.

The answer to my prayers was: “No.” My eyesight lets me see something more dazzling than precision. The same with the future. It’s good we don’t know. It’s good that tomorrow is hard to see, and years down the road are cloaked in mystery. It’s beautiful this way. A clear vision isn’t always the best view. What God has made a mystery is best kept for…when we walk closer to it, later on. Everything will come into its apparentness in time. Meanwhile, I can stop squinting, and enjoy the view from far away. I thank God I’m near-sighted. It reflects perfectly my vantage point in life, and illustrates the beauty of limitations.

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