Give me Ayin Tovah!

Give me Ayin Tovah!
Please oh LORD!
I need that “good eye bright”

to see clearly in that glad light
the world and all that lives therein
more clearly than my dull blind sin!tumblr_n2iappSj2j1r0f8s4o1_1280I choose that which is most dear,
that which is higher than the rest,
that which is pregnant with the best of best,
OH!  Give me river sight like waters
that rive 
out canyons deep and great
and beautiful 
in what has quick
been seen and then removed!tumblr_nk3x02fyaf1txde3xo1_1280yeah, I admit it’s true, that siege

of heart and soul by warring sides
with all opinion to the south
and every thought discordant lurking
dead north in sly quick ambush!

But it’s okay, I’ll use this pain
to myself remind to keep my eyes
wide open, kind and wider still
than the mouth of Jonah’s whale
and my heart here open wider in this gale.tumblr_nn0hrrh4u11r2zs3eo1_400This is the key to our city on the dungheap
our city of ruins and all about is strewn
our cut off-ness from rich gold transcendence!
Because there is always persistence
of good, of beauty, and truth shines bright
and its pure light is all around us!

All I have to do is rest my naked eyes
on the most mundane things and not
blindly ignore that jarring exhibition
of our propensity for estrangement!tumblr_n58agq7P2R1qg4kx9o1_1280If I can manage to keep my eyes stripped
of fear and fig leaves, then I can manage
the gentle gifts and unveiled grace implied
in every true glimpse of beauty and wisdom!

“All human nature vigorously resists
grace because grace changes us
and the change is painful,”
wrote Flannery O’Connor, 
lost
in one of those times when God woos

slowly with beauty, grace, and grandeur, woes
like seeing evulsive rivers woe and woo
the earth, moving in a manner
that is missed so easily by busy lives
or critical lives so readily distracted
in a focused pointing elsewhere
(or any other where, for that matter).tumblr_n58alvXEN21qg4kx9o1_1280In those mad times we are the mere
commuters between here and there
in Metro stations oblivious
to the works of Art before us, and
our estranged stony faces
miss the manifold displays
of a many-splendored God’s great graces
in such singular eternal entirety!

But other times, alas
it is we who find ourselves
moved nearly to blindness,
as we labor to take in
the glory of this God
in every startling moment,
like Moses or Isaiah lost
in deserts or in visions…

…Give me Ayin Tovah!
Please oh LORD!
I need that “good eye bright”

to see clearly in that glad light
the world and all that lives therein
more clearly than my dull blind sin!tumblr_m5z0ntTwTe1qa6xujo1_1280

Very Cool Devotional

Good morning Constance…today is the last day of vacation for me (sob sob!!  I dread returning to that prison!)…I will be writing more upon returning, I have several ideas for poems, but in the meantime, I am reposting this devotional…I totally related to the approach to living!

I think it gets very well to what I often use as my sign off:

Do justice.
Love Mercy.
Walk humbly.

Love, Charissa Grace

tumblr_n61bhb0LTm1snnj7so1_1280

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The Good Eye

Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev was a nineteenth-century rabbi known for his mastery of an unwieldy Mishnaic teaching. To carry one’s self with the ayin tovah, or the “good eye,” is to see in a certain light the world and everyone in it. One scholar describes it as the choice “to intentionally focus on what is most pure in each person—to see their highest and holiest potential.”(1) Rabbi Yitzchok was beloved for his good eye, utilized even in cases where virtue seemed entirely wanting and holiness altogether deficient. As one author describes, “He’d roust the local drunk from his stupor on High Holy Days, seat him at the head of the table, and respectfully ask for his wisdom… He extended his caring to all, whether powerful or impoverished, scholarly or simple, righteous or reprobate.”(2) In minds often besieged by warring sides, opinions ad nauseam, and defensive or disparaging thoughts, the good eye is indeed a shift of perception.

I appreciate stories that remind me to keep my eyes opened for all that can be seen but can just as easily be missed. How we learn to see the world, how we labor to see and know the world, is profoundly important. Despite the perseverance of goodness, beauty, and truth around us, the collective wisdom of sociologists, philosophers, historians, and artists all indicates that contemporary culture is structurally estranged from the transcendent. Learning to see with the good eye may well be a difficult feat without mindful effort and practice. But could it not be an entirely transformative art for both the seer and the world being seen?

Without such effort, consider all that is lost. An article from the Washington Post chronicles a jarring exhibition of our propensity for estrangement—seeing with eyes that are not really seeing, hearing but not hearing. The report describes an experiment they called “Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour?”(3) Violin virtuoso Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, was hired to perform several classical masterpieces at a Metro station during the morning rush hour. Three days prior to his debut at the Metro, Bell had filled Boston’s prestigious Symphony Hall, where only average seats sold for over $100. As he preformed with the same fervor on his handcrafted 1713 Stadivari for nearly an hour at the Metro, however, he took in a total of $32 and change from the 27 people who noticed him. The other thousand people hurried by, altogether unaware, though only three feet away from brilliance. “There was never a crowd, not even for a second.”(4)

Christian scripture is replete with stories that hint that it is always possible to pass over the gifts and grace in front of us, whether a glimpse of beauty or a lifetime of knowing the glory and presence of God. In the words of poet Francis Thompson:

The angels keep their ancient places:-
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendour’d thing.

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful,” wrote Flannery O’Connor to a friend, lamentably including herself in that resistance. There are indeed times when God woos us slowly with beauty, grace, and grandeur, moving among us in a manner that busy or critical lives readily miss while focusing elsewhere. Other times it is we who find ourselves moved nearly to blindness, as we labor to take in the glory of God in a startling moment like Moses or Isaiah. Sometimes, like commuters in the Metro station oblivious of the work of art before us, our estranged faces miss the signs of a many-splendored God entirely. But still other times, we labor intentionally to see with good eyes, and find the world around us transformed with the splendor of the one who first called the world good.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Marc Ian Barasch, The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009), 87.
(2) Ibid.
(3)Gene Weingarten, “Pearls Before Breakfast” The Washington Post, Sunday April 8, 2007.
(4) Ibid.