Getting Our Gaze Back

My office window faces east. Our unfriendly neighbor planted a peach tree in the tiny green space between her building and ours. My window frames the tree and the bright yellow spikes of winter cabbage gone to flower. Someone has dangled a plastic great horned owl from the telephone wires. I stare out. Two houses down, during the war, a blue and white banner hung from the second-floor porch. It said "Kalamazoo for Peace." Michigan is far away. Swallowtails, cabbage whites, skippers, and orange sulphurs follow scent trails to the tiny patches of flowers blooming furiously in the middle of the city. The window's iron security bars cast vertical shadows across my computer screen in the morning.

I've noticed about myself recently that I stare out the window and daydream when I'm desperate. The unrelenting beam of information aimed at me via the computer screen too often occupies my eyes. My gaze is clouded with data bits. The mind silts up with details, images, pleas for help, advertisements, and thousands of worthy campaigns for social change. "Life shouldn't be this hard," I think.

Eventually, nothing can float freely in the stream of my consciousness; everything is stuck. After some time staring at my mind-mud, I turn to the window. A psychological switch is thrown. I watch butterflies and wonder about color variations on peaches.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2003
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