I want to see
Beside the pool in the late morning, he suddenly kneels, leaning out over the water. Majestic clouds move across an unfathomable sky, changing the clear light as it travels down and washes over his bent body, the rustling trees, the white plastic chairs in orderly, framing lines. From my chair, I pause, gathering him up with my eyes, the way he sits so still and quiet, the way he breathes, content just to see. A light breeze lifts the hair up off of his forehead.
Adam sits patient and undisturbed for what feels like long, stretched out time, hardly turning his head. He will not look away. The way he watches makes me watch too. I follow the line of his sight into and through and over the water with its movement and texture, sliding over easy ripples in the surface where the breeze plays. The water lives. It breathes. And the way the Water bends and carries and holds the Light creates a tranquil art. All creation testifies, even here at our neighborhood pool in the middle of our everyday. We are surrounded by daily, by ordinary, by familiar, but Adam stops to see what is entirely rare—the way the light looks, the way the water moves, only just now, under this sky, in this breeze.
Adam glances at his watch, then back at the water, then back at his watch with a sharp, intelligent gaze. His eyes are the color of the sky, as though they have absorbed it entirely. I wonder if he’s thinking about how much the water changes shape in a certain span of time—seconds, minutes. Eventually, Adam reaches down and slowly draws his hand through the water in a gentle sweeping curve, shifting his weight back again to absorb the full sensory impact of this disturbance. For moment upon moment, he is only still, and then he bends down to see more closely, bending himself the way Light bends in Water, suddenly living in a new angle, slowing us until our breathing takes on a different quality. For a moment, we look. We notice.
In truth, it’s just a small, carved out breath, a smooth inhale to the count of ten, but it settles on me like a calming hand right flat over my soul. And then Adam’s friend calls his name, and he turns away from the water and turns back toward laughter and squealing play. They jump in the pool from the side. At the table next to me, my friend asks me a question. We sit sheltered under the umbrella, friends gathered in a few stolen hours, but I am thankful for just a moment when Adam’s sight drew me into yet another sheltering space—nourishing breath upon breath. In that tiny space, I felt myself inhale.
God uses my children to teach me to see, because where disability traps language, walling it in, God opens windows wide, for sight. Where my jaded senses numb and callous and stop up my thanksgiving, their sensitivity builds new spaces for touching and holding all the beauty that travels through. Autism makes my children ready receivers. In this way, the rest of us are really far more limited. Our ability to “prioritize” sensation only means that we miss things they absorb, stunning things, like the movement of Light through Water. We can live whole days trapped in our hurry and our poisonous self-absorption. We can live blind, because seeing is not often our priority.
I’m reminded of something Ann Voskamp wrote about living hungry for beauty:
The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God.
This is what I’m famished for: more of the God-glory.
I whisper with the blind beggar, ‘Lord, I want to see ‘(Luke 18:41).
That’s my morning pulse: ‘See, see.’
…I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep (One Thousand Gifts, 108,109).
I sigh, tucking away this thought: I want to see. I want to see beauty in the daily, in the sink, in the folds of clean laundry and the meal on the plate. I want not merely to expect real sight of these human eyes but to look intentionally for more, still more of the God-glory. I want to live as Light bent through Living Water. I am hungry for this intentional view, for this looking and living beyond, for these small inhales of real life-breath, even here, even now. I want to see Him—every glimpse; every broad, majestic sweep; every easy ripple of His extravagant grace.
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them (Matthew 13:15).