The Importance of Seeing the Unseen

Imagine you are in the deep recesses of a massive cave. Imagine you are surrounded by people, perhaps on a tour. Everyone is talking and marveling at the wonders of this hidden place deep underground. You feel a connection to the earth. You feel a connection to the people with whom you share this surreal experience.

And then, imagine someone turns out the lights. You don’t feel so connected anymore, do you? You suddenly feel alone. You feel darkness as heavy as the ground beneath your feet. You are surrounded by people; yet, no one sees you. They can hear you, but they can’t see you. One second ago you felt connected to everything and everyone around you; and in an instant, it was all taken away.

Have you ever felt unseen?

I have.

It is a deep dark lonely place. It is a real unmistakable place, too. When you are there, you know you are there. You know you are in the cave with the lights off. You sit. You stand. You flail your arms. You act as if no one is watching because no one is watching. You even breakdown and say it. You told yourself you weren’t going to say it, but you can’t hold it in anymore. You say, “Look at me!”, but still no one sees. They may look, but they don’t see.

At first you don’t mind the darkness. The first few minutes of holding a heavy weight aren’t so bad, but, eventually, everyone drops the weight. Eventually, everyone longs for someone to turn on the lights.

Eventually, everyone longs to be seen.

An image of Melissa from a distance, smiling while walking down the street. The overlain text reads, "The Importance of Seeing The Unseen."

Photo Credit: Debra Snell Photography

I was walking through the grocery store on Sunday night and one of the employees was organizing the yogurt shelves. He was stacking yogurt cups, pulling them forward, filling in the gaps. He was just doing his job. He didn’t see me as I rolled my cart behind him, but I saw him. I saw a man doing good work when he thought no one was watching. I saw a human being. I saw an opportunity to turn on the lights.

As I passed by, I said, “It looks good!” The man turned around, a little caught off guard, and gave me a smile and a “Thanks!”

And we both continued on. I continued shopping. He continued yogurt-organizing. The world kept spinning. Life moves on, but so does light.

Light travels.

When you shine a light in a dark place the light expands beyond the immediate space and time.

Most of us, myself included, take for granted the organized yogurt shelves. Most of us pass by the grocery store employees. Most of us take for granted and pass by most things. But what if we stopped taking things for granted? What if we stopped passing by? What if we started seeing the unseen? What if we started paying attention?

What if we started looking for light switches?

The world is dark, but it doesn’t have to be. People don’t have to feel lonely and unseen. But in order for this to be, we must move out of our comfort zones – the smartphone zone, the “this is more important” zone, the “I don’t have time” zone, the prejudice zone, the pride zone, the “I’m always right” zone. Our comfort zones are simply distractions. There are a lot of things in this busy world vying for our attention, but I believe people are the most important. Wouldn’t you agree? What could you possibly see that would be more important than seeing the heart of a human being?

For in the heart is where all manner of beauty and mystery and science and spirit live.

I’ve been making a conscious effort lately to start seeing the unseen, to start turning on the lights. Maybe you can start, too, and together we’ll see how far light really travels.

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