Eye Contact

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23

Loving the crisp air and autumn sunshine, as I was walking down the street with the pre-meditated intention of making eye contact and smiling at people as I passed by. (A little pilgrimage takeaway is to try to engage with strangers more). As I strolled, there were a couple of unkempt and unfamiliar guys panhandling with their ball caps ready to receive money from any and all who would be willing. I quickly averted my eyes, quickened my step, turned my head in the opposite direction and peered into a store window to appear as if I didn’t see them. As if I didn’t see them… As if! I bluntly ignored them and we all, both they and I knew it.

I didn’t have time to engage with them as I had a meeting to get to, was my immediate rationalization. That’s my story. But as I walked back the guilt pangs reverberated within me as I thought more about it. Why was I so quick and ready to smile, to make eye contact with strangers walking past, yet quick to avert eye contact with strangers who intentionally wanted something from me?

I realized making eye contact is an act of commitment from one to another. It is connection. It is a communication of value and worth from one soul to another.

Think about it. When someone gives you eye contact you feel valued or respected. Conversely, they feel worthy of giving eye contact to you. When I was young and being disciplined my mother would say, “Look at me when I am talking to you.” Or when my girls were young teens I knew if I could look into their eyes, the truth, in the midst of tears, would come flooding out.

Just the other day a woman was telling me her story of betrayal and in the middle of her story came the line, “ he looked me in the eye and lied.”

Eyes are the lamp to the body. And we try to put shades on them, masking our inner truths about who we really are.

Being clear sighted is the same as being pure in heart. Jesus tells us to remove the log from our own eye before we can remove the speck of dust from another. Its just another way of saying; look in your heart, deal with your good, bad, and ugly stuff with God, get pure, or cleaned out before you try to help another. The verse I started with, Matt.6:22,23; the eye as the lamp of the body is sandwiched between two passages about perspectives on money. First, Jesus says to look long term and invest in treasures for heaven and not temporary stuff for today. And secondly, don’t be blind to the reality that you will either serve money or God and you are not going to be able to do both simultaneously.

As I walked by those guys, I was embarrassed by my dismissive thoughts and arrogance to ignore them. That’s the truth. I couldn’t look them in the eye and give them the simple dignity of being human, whether I gave money or not. Is this not a picture of eye contact between us and God? We all are not worthy of God’s eye on us. We struggle in shame to gaze to God. Yet God’s eye is on us! We yearn to be the apple of His eye, and as such, we are so easily injured we need to know we are treasured, and worth protecting. And He does that. God looks upon us in love.