Pastor’s Letter – July 2013 – Peripheral Vision

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been playing a game on my tablet called Marble Saga. The game consists of a series of colored marbles that go around a variety of mazes. The goal is to clear the marbles before the front marble falls into a hole. When the stream of marbles does reach the hole, it moves very quickly, where the colors seem to combine. I reach this point often and when I do, I think it looks like those candy necklaces you can buy in the store. There is a marble shooter within the maze that spins around from which a marble may be released toward the stream. All you have to do is touch the screen where you want the marble to hit the stream of marbles with the hope that it hits the optimum spot to clear the matching color. Sounds easy, but there is also a great deal of strategy required.

This is not an easy game for me to play because you have to be aware of the peripheral movement of the beads as it moves around the screen. The player gets higher scores if they are able to remove several colors at once and to shoot successfully through the lines of marbles.

Recently my eye professional pointed out to me that my peripheral vision was very limited. Understanding this, I realize that while playing the game, I seem more focused on the center of the game and not so much on what is happening on the outer edges. I have to push myself to look beyond the immediate.

Relationships can be like this, as well. We see what is directly in front of us but we miss the things that are taking place beyond our peripheral vision. At these times, it is as if we are wearing blinders. The result is that frustration builds, tensions mount and feelings are hurt. Our intentions are good yet often we miss the mark.

On the other hand, Jesus did not miss anything. He could be walking down a crowded street with people pushing in on him from all sides, yet he saw the man who climbed a tree or felt a woman touch him on his robe. He saw people wherever he was, regardless of what he was doing. He saw the marginalized, he saw the hopeless, and he saw a person’s need without anyone uttering a word. Jesus also did not rush in with a quick response or try to fix the situation. Instead, he would ask questions that would reveal the intent of the person and what they were seeking from him. He listened first, contemplated the best response and acted. The best example of this is the story of the woman who was about to be stoned for her sins. Jesus comes upon the angry crowd, stoops down to draw in the sand and then responds with the famous quote, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:2-11).

We are not as astute as Jesus is. God gave us a neck so that we could look around; God gave us ears to hear the other; God gave us a heart so that we could empathize; yet, we are more comfortable staying focused on our own agenda. We jump to conclusions and react in an unhealthy way to the other person or the situation.

For this reason, Jesus instructed his disciples to forgive each day seventy times seven because he knew that we would need that much forgiveness every day if we were to experience peace within a community. In order to do this, we must be able to participate in self-reflection in order to consider what role we played in the situation and then not only forgive but, also, voice our regrets.

Further, if we could only stop and think about what is happening, consider the feelings and intent of the other, plan for possible positive responses and choose our words and actions so that the needs of the community are met, a stronger community would emerge.

May we consider working on our peripheral vision when it comes to one another.  May you have a blessed summer!

I thank God for you,
Pastor Kathy Nealand

Related Book: The .Emotional Intelligence of Jesus by Roy Oswald

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