Do You See This Woman?
Do you see this woman? No. Really.
Do you SEE this woman?
Hold that question. We’re coming back for it.
Jesus of Nazareth once asked Simon-The-Pharisee:
"Do you see this woman?"
A prostitute has crashed Simon’s party in an attempt to see Jesus. When she does see Jesus, she loses it -- drops to her knees at his feet and cries – she literally weeps tears ON his feet. Then she dries his feet with HER HAIR (like I said, she’s beside herself). Finally, a calm comes over her (I added the part about the calm, full disclosure), she pulls out a flask of expensive oil (this woman came hopeful, she came prepared) and she anoints his feet with the oil – a mark of great honor and respect.
Simon is repulsed. He also can’t help throwing a smug thought in Jesus’s direction. Simon notes to himself – with satisfaction – that if Jesus were really a prophet HE WOULD KNOW THAT IT WAS A PROSTITUTE WHO WAS FALLING ALL OVER HIM. So. Wrong. So. Inappropriate.
Jesus says to Simon, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
Simon is ON, he’s ready. He responds, “Say it.” (“Bring it!” is implied.)
Jesus tells a simple parable, which we will discuss on another fine day, Simon answers the closing question correctly and then Jesus turns to the woman, and asks Simon,
"Do you see this woman?"
Jesus then proceeds to tell Simon what He sees when He looks at “this woman.”
Jesus sees – not a prostitute, but a woman who has washed, dried and anointed His feet.
Wait. There’s more.
Jesus sees a woman who has “loved much.”
And Jesus tells Simon, very frankly, “I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”
Jesus saw right through “prostitute” straight into the heart of a woman who – despite stumbles and falls of all sorts (you know, like us) – despite it all, she had loved much.
Now we return to the question.
Do you see this woman? Do you SEE this woman?
I challenge you to take this question into your day.
Pick somebody – anybody – and imagine Jesus is standing beside you, shoulder-to-shoulder, looking at the person with you. (Or imagine your guardian angel or your Higher Self or Beloved-Crossed-Over-To-The-Other-Side-Granny or whoever it is that you imagine to be kind and wise and at your side to help you along). ANYWAY -- Imagine that person saying to YOU,
“Do you see this woman?” And let come what may.
I will tell you what came to me.
I was sitting at a traffic light, and I looked over at the woman in the expensive car next to me. Likely in her 60s, sharp blonde bob, cool expensive sun glasses -- I decided to try it on her.
I looked at her, and I pretended Jesus was beside me, saying to me, “Do you see this woman?” I looked and looked. “I see you,” I said to her in my head. “I don’t know who you are or what you need. I don’t know anything about you. But I see you. I do.”
I wondered if she’d “feel” my stare, but she never did. She just kept looking at the stoplight as if she were lost deep in thought.
And then there it was.
Her hand fluttered up to tuck her hair behind her ear, and I saw her chest rise and fall in a sigh – sooooo close to being imperceptible, but I saw it. Not an exasperated-with-the-light angry sigh, but a slow, wistful sigh.
Somewhere in between the inhale and exhale of that sigh things changed for me, and time in the cab of my truck stood still for a moment. (Like in the movies when everything freezes except the main character.) Something washed over me…Something I can’t quite describe in words, but it was kind and good and grounded and sacred – and she was no longer the rich woman in the expensive car next to me. She was the woman who sighed. And I found myself whispering impulsively, “Oh, Father! Please give her what she needs.”
Then the light changed and it was over. But a small part of that moment stayed with me for the rest of the day.
I’m haven’t been seeing people lately. I realize that now. I need to slow down and SEE them.
I’m gonna try it again tomorrow. You try it too.