Monday, March 8, 2010

The Extra Eye

Many writers and sages claim that love is blind.  The idea is that love keeps us from seeing with cold accuracy those we love. I remember a plaque at my grandparents’ house showing an elderly couple kissing. The caption read, “Love is blind, the neighbors aren’t.”

In a poem by Sylvia Plath, named “Mirror” she explores the importance of modern society's interest in youth and beauty. In it she says that the mirror just reflects the truth, “unmisted by love or dislike,” suggesting, like other thinkers, that love clouds our view of reality. This line from the poem reinforces the idea that love's view is not the true view.

This common belief is why mothers apologize when they recognize their children’s gifts. I suppose there's historical reason for the caution in our cultural attitudes. After all, it was a mistake for Napoleon to elevate his brothers and sisters and their spouses to royal positions all over Europe. But not many of us can really claim blindness anywhere close to Napoleon's level of delusion. (He was a slightly crazy military genius).

When I began teaching, my friend Jo-Ann advised me to try to look for the potential in the students – especially in those students who might occasionally be irritating. This concept was a common theme in our morning devotions at school. We hoped to be able to see our students with eyes of hope, with eyes of vision.

Recently I enjoyed a lively conversation with a former student. His warm outgoing nature made me smile, his kindness and generosity of spirit touched me. But when he was in high school, these qualities were well-hidden, maybe in seedling form. How gracious of God to allow me to meet up with him again and see how beautifully he’s grown.

It’s refreshing to look at things differently and James Barrie does so in his book The Little Minister. He says, "Love it is said is blind, but love is not blind. It is an extra eye, which shows us what is most worthy of regard. To see the best is to see most clearly, and it is the lover's privilege."

This outlook helps us remember to look again at those around us, to search the irritating ones for the spark within them that yearns for expression. Maybe she’s frustrated, maybe she needs someone to believe in her. This way of looking at love helps us to reconsider the gift within that bossy, willful child. Maybe he simply can’t wait to accomplish the dreams he can sense but can barely now define. The extra eye sees not the physical, it sees beyond time and the limits of the tangible.

Seeing with the extra eye means recognizing the gold within others. It means paying attention to the dream. It means focusing on the treasure that is behind the clumsy attempts people make at using gifts so big they’re scary.


  1. I have often wondered if in loves blindness we got a more accurate picture of those we love, the sort of person they will be in eternity. But then I see people who blinded by their adoration that they stay in unhealthy and hurtful relationships. So I guess a fall love is not as good of a lens as we would like.

  2. who is that beautiful lady holding Joey in that picture?