It was Christmas Eve. I had walked the chilly neighborhood with my 6-month-old grandson Briar strapped onto my chest in a nylon carrier. It was nap time, and his eyelids fluttered lower and lower as we walked until his head finally collapsed against me. Returning home I slid carefully into a chair in front of our fireplace and for about half an hour I dozed while he slept hard, body to body. It was an absolutely magical moment. Pure contentment. But that wasn’t even the best part.
When Briar’s eyes opened, his head leaned back against the carrier, and he just stared into my eyes, unblinking, for maybe five minutes. Eight inches away, eyeball to eyeball, his wide deep green orbs soaked up my adoring smile. One of the most impactful childrearing books we read early on (How to Really Love Your Child) talked about the power of eye contact, and in those moments with my grandson, I actually felt the love pour directly into the “tank” of his soul. His face was an emotional sponge. Wow.
Back a few years I attended a workshop on personality types. One of their exercises had us pair up with a stranger and sit chair to chair for five minutes and simply look, unblinking, into another person’s eyes. Most of us felt a little awkward, a little embarrassed. It is a strangely intimate experience…and strangely life-giving. Have you ever tried it? Here with my grandson, it was the most natural thing I could imagine.
Reminds me of Jesus’ words, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17). I might paraphrase it like this: Until we can learn how to open our souls to love with childlike receptivity, we will always miss the opportunity to live in God’s realm.
So standing here on the brink of a brand new year, my question is this: How would it impact your life this year to habitually soak, unblinking, in the gaze of God?
- Take 10 minutes to be completely still and quiet. Look outside a window (or go outside if it’s warm enough) and imagine the wintry world as the face of God, gazing at you. You can also do this with a piece of art, a live fireplace, or with closed eyes in your imagination.
- Or, try writing a paragraph or two of what’s in your heart toward your child/grandchild. Now, can you receive those same words as God’s heart toward you?
- Or, meditate on Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
God’s unfiltered delight flows unceasingly from God’s eyes to yours…
if you will but return the gaze. Unblinking.