My daughter Kristen and her husband Ric have lived in Portland, Oregon, for almost two years now. Although it is a beautiful part of the country, they have not found the people to be as desirable. Here in Michigan when you walk down the street and someone is coming at you from the other direction, you can be almost certain that your eyes will meet and one or both of you will nod a hello. Kristen tells me that in Portland, people do not make eye contact. They don’t look at you. Weird, huh? With my job as a recovery nurse to patients having eye surgery, you can be sure I spend my day looking into plenty of eyes. But even when I’m not at work, I tend to always catch the eye of the person I walk past or the service person or waitress who is speaking to me. I love how, when eyes meet, I can smile at that person and instantly a smile appears and reflects back at me. I think God created us so that our eyes were meant to connect. Unlike most all the other mammals I can think of, we are the only mammal that show the whites of our eyes. It makes the dark center of our eyes stand out. It is easier to see where someone else is looking.
Our eyes can convey so much: they give away our emotions and can convey attentiveness and an intimate bond when eye contact is made. By a look into someone’s eyes you can tell if they have shifty eyes, bedroom eyes, sad eyes, a sparkle in their eyes, kind eyes, or eyes that are glazed over. There is a Romanian proverb that states, “The eyes have one language everywhere.” No words needed here – just look into someone’s eyes and you will know a lot about them.
Psalm 119:37 tells us to “Turn my eyes away from worthless things.” Yeah – we are what we look at! What are you gazing at on that computer screen? Are you staring and lusting for some expensive, unnecessary bauble or fancy item? Are you stuck on looking at the past? Do you see the poor and needy as dirty and worthless or do you see the pain and their needs? As I gave more thought to the non-eye-contact Portlanders I realized what may be the cause. Portland just about caters to the homeless and offers food and shelter to thousands. You could say it promotes the homeless lifestyle. On most any street you walk in Portland, you will find people asking for money. Perhaps this has caused the general population to turn away and not make eye contact with anyone so they do not have to encounter and dismiss another person with their hand out?
Helen Keller once said that, “Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.” I would have to agree. I would rather lose my hearing than lose my sight. Poor Helen had neither. You’ve heard the expression in describing something gorgeous and lovely as being “a feast for the eyes”? I hope sweet Helen had a banquet waiting for her in heaven!
“My eyes are ever on the Lord” is the wise advice of Psalm 25:15. Yes, we must keep our eyes away from worthless things and look for direction from the Lord. He is our ultimate example of how we should live. And although we should try to keep the picture of an empty Easter tomb fresh in our minds, I understand the challenge of keeping our eyes and minds set in the direction of God’s way and plan. It’s all about faith as 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us how we must, “…fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.”
And finally, I must share these two wise quotes I found about eyes and seeing that I discovered today which offer wise marital advice:
“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards.” said Benjamin Franklin. Ah yes, wise old Ben!
And my favorite:
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” – Jim Carrey