Our Spiritual Sense of Seeing as Prayer

Everywhere I look there are TV shows, articles, pictures, poems, reflections and pithy aphorisms about love, oneness and seeing or knowing God. If I didn’t know better I would think we were hungry, or even starving, to see Spirit! In our spiritual journey we seek to define God, to manifest Spirit, to know our faith and to live it. I sometimes find myself drifting in and out of knowing the Divine, and what it means to fully “see” God, or even to have faith in what I am doing.

The power to see in Spirit is peculiar to faith. In its outer expression this power is sight; interiorly it is that which perceives the reality of the substance of Spirit. Mental seeing is knowing; we mentally discern. Have faith in what you do. – Charles Fillmore

One of the most powerful practices for “seeing,” not necessarily with my outer eyes, but with my heart, is prayer. The spiritual sense of seeing is our capacity to discern the reality of Spirit, which lies back of every form, symbol, experience, word and action. This seeing begins in prayer. Fr. Thomas Keating said, “The undifferentiated presence of God in pure faith is accessed by the discrete use of sacred symbols… one is gazing upon God. As you move into interior silence and feel called to rest in God… it is as if you were seeing, but you do not see any image.”

More often than not my capacity for seeing requires me to rest in that stillness of prayer and wait for an opening in my heart. While resting in the silence offers me these moments of opening, in truth, they happen everyday, in the most ordinary times. So even though nothing around me ever really stops, and I don’t live my life in the silence, I can prepare myself for seeing Spirit during the ordinary of my day through a continuing prayer practice. It’s like building a faith muscle; we are readying ourselves to be open, when we least expect it, to see Spirit more – regardless of what’s going on around us.

Akhenaton, the Egyptian pharaoh who believed in one Source, developed the belief in the Sun as the living face of God by seeing the common elements behind the many gods people believed in at his time. Where I’ve come to on my own journey is that I believe faith is about seeing the connections in life, all life. Faith is about how I see that Divine umbilical cord weaving the interconnected web of life.

The mystical paradox then is that if I am to perceive the reality of Spirit, as Charles Fillmore said, I need to be looking for it, AND then when seeing Spirit, it becomes empowered, alive and takes form! This is faith – believing in that connection of all life even though you can’t see it. Faith is making the invisible, visible.

So know this: through your own practice of “gazing on God” as you humbly live your life doing the everyday things, others begin to see you and see Spirit working through. They begin to have their own sense of the reality of Spirit made manifest. Without specifically intending anything in particular, without doing anything special, you live your faith and create moments of opening for others to see.

Just as each of our physical senses broadens the depth and texture of our physical life, so too do our spiritual senses draw our focus to experience all that God is. The spiritual senses are analogies, they are sacred symbols of the activity of Spirit inviting us into communion. They prompt us to be more engaged with all the beauty, joy and suffering that is ever-present. This is how I long to know the divine – real, attentive and authentic – through my senses and beyond my senses. Each sense is an inlet of spiritual knowledge, that when awakened, asks me to live more fully, to love more deeply, to be Spirit here on earth.

Reflections this week:

  • Have I spent time today “looking” for God?
  • Where did I see Spirit at work in the things I enjoyed? In the challenges?
  • What ordinary activities did I participate in today? Did I see the extraordinary in those moments?
  • How has my faith been made visible today?
  • Have I used my “mental seeing” to reframe an experience?