Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Keeping Vision Clear

On one of my past trips to the Middle East, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine who is a peace and social justice activist. She spends her days in Israel and Palestine in a variety of peace-related activities. Her grief and frustration over the situation was palpable. Although she works tirelessly each day and is the most committed person I know, she feels useless and ineffective at times. She summed it up for me by saying, “I’ve lost my clarity of vision. It’s like I can’t see anymore. Nothing is clear. I need to have my vision cleared and restored or I won’t be able to continue my work.”

It is true for all of us, no matter what situations we face in our lives. The perspective we hold is all important. How clearly we see a situation can make all the difference.

Long ago I started a simple practice when leading spiritual pilgrimage tours. Each morning when I board the tour bus, I clean my sunglasses with a special cloth and spray. I also offer to clean the glasses of the tour participants seated near me on the tour bus.

The response is always the same. When the person puts the clean glasses on, there is always an exclamation of shock about ‘how different everything looks!’ People are always surprised that such a quick and simple act of cleaning their lenses changes their vision so dramatically.

For my part, I am always surprised at how dirty the glasses are. Cleaning one’s glasses doesn’t take a long time and yet most people don’t do it very often. It is a great reminder of how distorted our perspective sometimes must get before we realize how off track we actually are and take corrective action.

I rarely cleaned my sunglasses before I adopted this daily ritual as part of my spiritual practice. Whenever I clean my glasses, I remind myself that I’m ‘adjusting my perspective’ and eliminating the distortions in my own vision. I use it as an outward sign of my inward commitment to do the same with my ‘inner’ vision.

When I clean someone else’s glasses, I offer the experience of looking at life and the world free of distortions and distractions. My hope is that this powerful metaphor sinks deeply into mindfulness and ripples outward into life.

So, have you cleaned your glasses lately? How about your sunglasses? The mirrors in your home? Maybe its time for a ‘lens check’ inside and out!

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