Unity of Birmingham Guest Writer Series:
By Jane Phillips
“He that has eyes to see, let him see and he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 13:9)
We have lots of clichés about not seeing what is right in front of our eyes: “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” or “Can’t see beyond the end of your nose.” Jesus often said, “He who has eyes to see, let him see,” because he knew that most people didn’t “see” the meaning of his parables. Then, as now, many of his teachings were misunderstood, argued about and then, misinterpreted. Why is it that we humans do not agree on what we see, what happened, what it means, or even what is real and what isn’t? As Rev. Jesse Herriot would say, pointing to his forehead, “this is your headquarters.” Our truth is our interpretation of events, and not TRUTH.
We see the world through the filter of our personal experience, and that experience is limited to one lifetime (that we remember) and usually, one culture. I willingly admit that I don’t know what it is like to be a black person in America. I don’t know what it is like to be Jewish, or Native American, or Asian. I am a white, Southern, educated, woman, who is a product of her culture. Everything I see and think, is informed by that limited worldview. All I can do is admit that I do not know and educate myself as best I can.
What I have done for most of my adult life is question everything. My cousin Sandy tells me, “You think too much,” and she’s probably right. But I’m not alone. I was in a Zoom meeting recently for a program called Jung After Work that brings the teachings of Carl Jung to interested people. We were trying to choose presentation topics for the upcoming year. A young woman from Summerville, Tennessee joined the group for the first time. When the facilitator asked what sparked her interest in Jung After Work, she told her story—one that sounded familiar to most of us. She had become disillusioned with the way the world was going and began looking for a community of people who were trying to live differently. She was searching for her tribe, so to speak. About a year ago, she landed on a cooperative farm and was introduced to books by Jungian Analysts like John Sanford and Nancy Qualls-Corbett. Through them, she began to “see” life differently, as multifaceted, multilayered. When you seek, you find, and your vision expands.
Our view of what’s real and what’s not, can change in the blink of an eye. A diagnosis, loss of a loved one, a business failure or huge success, an accident that changes your body, falling in love, having a baby, being offered your dream job; all these can alter your view of the world in a nanosecond. It’s as though some cosmic hand hit the delete button on life as you knew it. What was, is no more, and what is, is simply unfathomable. It’s a blank slate, and good or bad, it’s unsettling.
If we have eyes to see, we will recognize that the divine hand is in all things—whether good or bad. All experiences are opportunities for us to develop depth, consciousness, self-awareness. We grow in wisdom as we navigate new ground, overcome obstacles, fail, and succeed. Our vision of the world is unique to us—comes right out of our “headquarters,” and may or may not apply to others. Remembering that helps us understand our world better.
In the Spirit, Jane
About the Writer
Jane Philips is a retired Special Education teacher, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Massage Therapist. She has also lead Spirituality Groups, Wisdom Circles, drumming circles, and she wrote a daily blog for twelve years called Spiritually
Speaking. Jane is currently working on a memoir titled, Old Crazy Town. She is a fifth-generation quilter.