So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
I recently read the story of the Laetoli footprints. In 1976, archaeologist Mary Leakey was digging in the Tanzanian plain when she made an amazing discovery: a single footprint preserved in what was once volcanic ash. Further exploration yielded more footprints—an eighty-foot swath made by three people, fifty-four in all—all that was left of companions walking together, 3.6 million years ago. Leakey’s team studied the footprints for three years and when finished, reburied them for preservation.
As I read that story I began to wonder how much of the sacred is buried under the soil of the visible in this world. In our day-to-day lives, we pile on layer after layer of things we can see, things we can touch, mistakenly thinking this is the way to happiness and security … all the while losing sight of a priceless treasure as we bury it deeper and deeper under the soil of excess. How easy to lose sight of an unseen God when so many visible, lesser gods clamor for our attention.
In 1995 the Laetoli footprints were excavated once again. In the span of those short twenty years, the site had become revegetated by acacia trees. Unfortunately, the roots of the trees damaged much of the prints. It seems an apt picture of what can happen to our hearts when we cling to only what the eyes can see; unless we celebrate the sanctified imagination that allows us to see with eyes of faith, the roots of the visible twine down and wreak havoc on our ability to discern the work of the Spirit.
Too many days I don’t see beyond the dusty corners of my world—piles of paperwork, mounds of laundry, hungry mouths, broken hearts, and hurting bodies. I am nearsighted, blinded by everything I can put arms around.
I need to be reminded that there are real things that can’t be touched or seen.
There are things so high they cannot be cupped in a hand. Things so wonderful they are easy to miss. Because seeing them requires more than a distracted glance. It requires a holy imagination.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What do you do to remain mindful of the unseen, eternal things? Do you find that having an active imagination is helpful in doing so? What is one way you can exercise your imagination and increase your awareness of the Holy Spirit moving in your life today?
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, forgive me for overlooking your presence in my life. Help me to see the unseen, eternal things. Sanctify my imagination for the good work of your kingdom. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Just as blind Bartimaeus said, “I want to see.” Amen.