Cultivate Your Sight

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Luke 12.29-39

Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,

Love of the Lord. Love of the neighbor. Love of the world. Love of myself.

What do we really love? What do we really want? How could we come to know? This is not an easy question, not an easy quest. Of course, seeing and feeling what one really, actually loves would seem to be the most direct, the most efficient approach. But there are reasons that this might not be possible. There needs to be a cultivated skill to see, to see through the obfuscations, the denials, the rationalizations, the justifications, the self-protective buffers, and more, much more.

In addition, there needs to be a cultivated willingness to see oneself to this extent.

And maybe most importantly, there needs to be a strength, a substance, a structure that can bear what is seen.

The willingness to see, the skill to see, and the ability to bear what is seen.

In the beginning of such a quest, the scripture quoted above can be of great help.

We can look at our lives and actual priorities as indicators of where we are storing our treasure. And from this, we can begin to get a feeling for where are hearts actually are. And while we rely on this indirect approach, we can begin to pray for the willingness to more fully see ourselves and pray for the skill to do so. And if we do this slowly enough, carefully enough, gently enough, we can concurrently build up the strength, the substance, the structure to bear what we see.

In the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the fourth step is a searching and fearless moral inventory of one’s self. And the fifth step is to admit the findings of this inventory to one’s self, to another person, and to God. For many an alcoholic, this has become a matter of physical life and death. And for the alcoholic who makes it through to the other side, there is a paradoxical gratitude for the disease of alcoholism, which made such a recovery necessary. For it is not only the alcoholic’s physical lives that have been saved, but their actual, living lives. Recovery makes it clear that a life directed by fears and unhelpful loves can be a living death, a mediocre experience, whether or not one’s physical life is threatened.

Choose Love! Choose Life! Choose Seeing!

John Gwynn, Fellow Traveler