April 20, 2021

Weekly Reflection – Seeing But Not Perceiving

Weekly Reflection – Seeing But Not Perceiving

Seeing but not perceiving is an experience everyone has at some point. Hearing aids have been a great help to my wife, Judy, whose ears have deteriorated over the past few years. Last evening, she came to bed with the hearing aids turned on. When she woke up, one of the devices was missing. The other was placed neatly on her bedside table. What could have happened to the other one?

She searched and searched and eventually told me about the situation. Then I searched as well. We removed every shred of bedding, shook it all out, looked under and all around the bed with flashlights (torches). The hearing aid was nowhere to be found. How could it have disappeared? I gave up with a shrug of my shoulders, saying, “I guess it will show up someday.”


Judy was more tenacious than I. Later, I came in after working in the garden, and she had this mysterious smile on her face as she led me to the bedroom and told me to look behind the bedside table. I looked but still could not find the hearing aid. At last, I saw it, hanging ever so neatly, about 6 cm above the floor, across a loop in the electric lamp cord! You see, we had been looking for it on the floor, not suspended above the floor. In doing so, we looked right through it, seeing but not perceiving its presence.

It must have been a little like that for the two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff). The text reads, “That very day two of them were going up to a village…Jesus himself drew near to them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:1;16). Later that evening, “…he took bread and blessed, and he broke it and gave it to them. And then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-33). The disciples had seen and been with Jesus all day, but they failed to perceive who He was.

Failing to Perceive

What do we see but fail to perceive? Is Jesus there in the form of the homeless person standing on a street corner? Is He there at the food pantry? Is He there when our leaders are forced to make tough decisions? Is there anywhere He is not? I suspect that perhaps there are more places and situations He is than those He is not. But we fail to recognize His presence in what is really happening.

Where has Jesus come alongside you this week, but you failed to perceive His presence? What might you have done differently if you had been aware of whose presence you were standing in? How can we sharpen our mental eyesight? Food for thought.

Blessings and peace,

Chaplain Allen


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