Yippee--work has begun on a new garage at our house. Our tiny one car garage may have looked sweet and would have been a perfect garden shed, but when it came to squeezing in my car and a lawnmower and other garden tools, all sweetness disappeared. Every time we parked the car in the garage was a new adventure, as if we had never done it before, and my Jeep has the scuff marks on all four corners of the car to prove it.
We have been waiting for the project to begin, worrying that winter would arrive, and we would need to wait till next spring--not a happy prospect, but Monday morning machinery arrived and a dinosaur ate our garage, according to my husband who watched the destruction from the garret window. The next day the crew arrived to pour the new concrete slab, which is now curing. We were told that was the crucial pre-winter step, and we will have a new garage in a month or so. I repeat, yippee!
What I see when I look out the window is the future; what it will be like to have a truly usable and functioning garage, but, I realize that may not be what others see as they look at the lonely slab. My husband sees, along with the serviceable new garage, a smaller backyard, but at the same time he is beginning to imagine how he wants to garden in that space.
Our neighbors, however, may see potential difficulties maneuvering the alley because of trucks coming and going as the garage is constructed, and they may not be happy about the noise of construction. Or seeing from their windows the contents of the disappeared garage now invading our backyard, may wonder if they will have to look at that all winter long. Will this be one of those unfinished projects with good intentions, but interrupted by weather or lack of funds? Will the fence be repaired, and what will the garage look like when it is done finally?
A middle schooler heading to school through the alley may wonder if we are configuring a basketball court and will watch for the erection of a basketball hoop. A younger child may see this concrete slab as a perfect place to ride his trike or test out the training wheels on his first bike. Or is this the basis for an ice skating rink? I am sorry, but they will be disappointed.
The workers see a job and income. The construction company sees all the steps that need to happen as promised, along with future referrals and business, if it is done well and on time.
Everyone has their own perspective and see something a little bit different.
Learning to See
Recently, I attended training for the Art Adventures program for elementary schools offered by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and a key ingredient in this program is to help young people "see." To say what they see and feel free to say what they see. As the volunteer "Picture Person," it is my job to see with them and to see what they see and to help them see beyond and through and within and not to correct or judge.
At another museum not long ago I heard a guide ask a group of middle school students about a detail in a painting. All sorts of possibilities were offered, and each time the guide responded, "No, that's not right." Well, maybe technically the answers offered were not right, just as our garage slab is not going to be a basketball court, but it could be! I wanted to hear more from the students about what they were seeing and why they had responded the way they did. I wished the guide could see what the students saw. If he had, they all could have sharpened their own abilities to see--to imagine, to apply what they know to a new situation, to trust their own perspectives, even as they come to understand someone else's perspectives, and to not worry so much about right and wrong answers.
The View from the Garage
We were invited to attend a neighborhood party not long ago--a party held in a garage, as a matter of fact. People from both sides of the alley were invited, and we so enjoyed meeting neighbors we had only seen as their garage doors closed. A good chunk of the conversation, as it happened, focused on garages, for we are not the only ones with a garage challenge and others have built or are contemplating building a new garage. Lots of opinions were expressed and probing questions asked, and some people seemed to know the ways things should be done. I didn't say much, and Bruce explained our plans without spending any time justifying why this way as opposed to that. No one asked if we had considered not having a garage and instead would provide play space for the neighbor kids. This is Minnesota, after all, and we need a place to park when the snow piles up.
We all see the need for a practical and functional garage, but we all have a different image in our mind of what that looks like. We see more than what is in front of us. We see from our own perspective. Deeper seeing happens when we can see from someone else's perspective and when we know in our minds and in our hearts that there is more to seeing than seeing.
My prayer is that we can begin to see with more than our own eyes.
Is there something in front of you that needs you to see it or her or him or them? What aren't you seeing clearly? What awaits your fresh way of seeing? How can seeing become a spiritual practice? I would love to know.