You'll See...Let Yourself Be Seen

Photograph by M Gus Slawson

Photograph by M Gus Slawson

My morning reading was the Beatitudes. I’ve hated that list since childhood. A feeling of dread passed over me, an old deep feeling from way back, from my days of ‘ought to’ and ‘should’. A feeling of shame.  Not only could I not achieve any of those things for which I would be blessed, I didn’t want to be them and I couldn’t make myself want to.  

I used to read them as commandments. 

Be poor in spirit.


Be meek.

Go hungry.

Be open and vulnerable and unprotected. 

Make peace.

Invite persecution.

Be reviled. 

Who would choose any of that?   I read them as if the Beatitudes were telling me to choose against self-sufficiency, protection, confidence, the pursuit of happiness, fullness, smarts and wits, winning, and approval.  

The Beatitudes are un-American.

They are also real life when you wake up to it. 

If I pick my life up and examine it, if I really listen to my own heart - deep in the silence- all those things already exist. I don’t have to try to do them or be them.  They are not commandments; they are realities.  Life in God sometimes brings poverty of spirit, mourning, hunger, and humiliation. Any relationship worth having involves openness and vulnerability and probably having to make peace at times.  Any belief worth standing on or sometimes just telling the truth may invite persecution and make enemies.  And that life is blessed. 

Blessed not because it’s easy but because it’s in.  He is present in the poverty of spirit.  When I’m out of options, I find Him deep within me. When I mourn, the Comforter comes.  When I’m humiliated, He stands with me and stands up for me.  When I’m hungry, He feeds me. When I open myself up, He guards my heart himself or holds it when it breaks.  He gives me the tools to make peace, and invites me further into the kingdom if I am persecuted. When I’m slandered, He knows the truth and is the truth.  

wrote recently about how Jesus told the ten lepers to go show themselves to the priest and on the way they were healed.  This idea of letting myself be seen so that I will see, be transformed and healed is also in the beatitudes.  Blessed are we who can see and own our messes. Blessed are we who know we are inadequate, for we find we are held by complete adequacy.  Blessed are we if we can feel and reveal our emptiness, let our tears fall, or go to another with an apology.

There’s a story of Jesus in a boat with some friends.  He is napping under the bow. A storm comes up and they began to freak out. Fear seizes them. And then anger: “Don’t you even care that we are about to die?”  No brave faces here. No self-sufficiency, confidence, winning and wits here.  No false bravado. Panic is spewing out everywhere. They are showing themselves royally. 

And then they see. 

“Be still,” he said to the wind and the waves. He got up from his nap and looked at the weather and spoke to it.  

Who does that? The One with authority. The Maker.  They are his winds and his waves.  Only He has the right and the power to tell them to be still.  

The blessing wasn’t in the storm, nor was it in the calm. The blessing was in the seeing.  They saw the Power and Presence of Eternity when they let themselves be seen.  

Blessed are we if we can let ourselves be seen, for then we will see.