You Can't See If You Don't Look


I rounded the corner and there she was, a little girl with messy hair, big brown eyes, and a puffy white winter coat unzipped and slipping off one shoulder. She was leaning against a tall man in a blue plaid shirt, gray beard and worn, camo-colored baseball cap. His arm was around the shoulder with the drooping coat, protectively.

And I heard the little love say, as she wriggled her body even closer into her protector,

“I’m afraid.”

I saw quickly why she was afraid.

On the right side of the greenbelt path was a large basset hound. On the left side of the greenbelt path was a black lab-something mix and a fat white terrier.

And the dogs were WOUND UP, unable to decide which they wanted more – to visit each other, or to visit the little girl. There was a lot of  jumping and barking, and the little girl was frightened.

Now the formula goes – and I’ve used the formula often myself, big fan of the formula here, so I’m not criticizing the formula –

But the formula goes that I write next about how the little girl leaning into the grandfather is like us leaning into God when we are afraid.  Which is lovely.


Instead, I’m going to write about what was REALLY going on for that brown-eyed, messy-haired little girl.

Because as I watched her wriggle her body into her grandfather, I noticed that her eyes remained fixed on the dogs, and her face remained anxious.  I saw clearly that while the little girl DID feel her grandfather near, and that she DID feel like he was a source of protection and strength --


The girl also could not take her eyes off the dogs, and she felt very afraid.

Both. She felt both. Not first one feeling and then another. Both. Simultaneously. You know. Like some of us. (Like some of us all the damn time.)

Sometimes, when we’re afraid, we tell God, and God flows in and takes the fear away. We lean in, we feel His protection and strength and we are no longer afraid. I like to call these The Awesome Times.


Some other times we sense Him there – we do – but we ALSO keep feeling afraid.


Maybe we can find the meaning of this by looking at the girl:

Grandfather was strong, PRESENT and attentive to the child’s needs.

The owners of the two sets of dogs – entranced by the beautiful child, just as I was – had firm, two-handed grips on their leashes, and were calling out to the little girl not to be afraid, that the dogs were friendly and wouldn’t hurt her.

AND THE DOGS -- tails wagging, legs hopping (no easy feat for a basset hound btw) -- the dogs were CLEARLY lovers-of-children and only wanted the child to pet them and maybe give a quick hug.

To be honest, even the sun seemed to shine down on that little brown head...

So the girl who was afraid WAS IN NO DANGER AT ALL.

In fact, HER ENTIRE WORLD was reaching out, longing to love her. (Even me, running by!)

Perhaps it is the same with us.

Maybe when we lean in to God, when we tell God “I’m afraid,” and we sense that He is there BUT ALSO still feel frightened…

Maybe we're just… Wrong.

What is frightening you today? What is it that appears before you, so threatening that you cannot move your gaze away? Illness of body or mind? Worries about a loved one? Your Job?  Money? EVERYTHING?

Have you told Him? Are you leaning in? Okay. Now take a breath and listen: Take your eyes off the thing that is terrifying you and look around.

Strong arms are around you. The Universe is calling reassurances to you. The Light is shining on you. Loving you.

Your God and His World are reaching out -- and reaching in! -- to help you. And all you need LOOK.

You can't see if you don't look.