In early August, right before my annual pilgrimage to the Davis Mountains, I bought a new pair of sunglasses with outstanding optics and polarized lenses. I was shocked to discover how much better I could see with them. I was reminded of a trout fishing expedition in New Mexico a number of years ago. My guide kept pointing out fish that he could see suspended beneath the water, but I couldn’t see them. He finally asked if I had polarized lenses, which I did not, then loaned me his glasses. I was stunned at the difference they made.
Scientific studies indicate that we actually see only about 10 % of what is in our field of vision. Put simply, we mostly see only what we are looking for. There are fascinating studies in which participants do not notice or see major elements in a video because they have been asked to focus on certain portions of it. The participants in one of the more famous studies did not see the rather obvious appearance of a gorilla because they had been asked to count how many times a group of people had bounced a basketball. They only saw what they were looking at! (Google “Gorillas in our midst study” for more information).
When one reads through the New Testament, it is interesting to discover how many of the healing miracles of Jesus deal with blindness. Scholars tell us that blindness was much more common then than now, and so I used to think that was the reason the healing of blindness is so prominent in the New Testament. But in recent years I have come to believe that these stories have even more metaphorical power for us: they are essentially stories about spiritual blindness. They are reminders that we do not see life as fully or accurately as we think we do. We are often blinded by our prejudices or our biases (Google “confirmation bias” for more information).
Most of us are guilty of intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance. The healing miracles of Jesus show us that a vital spiritual life is the antidote to spiritual blindness. Ironically, genuine humility about how poorly we perceive things is the pathway to better vision. It can also be the first step in the healing of many relationships. If enough of us tried it, it might even lead to healing within our nation.