Listening With Our Eyes

by Chuck Summers

Photo of Jenny Wiley State Park by Chuck Summers

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him…?” Psalm 8:3-4

I recently read Mitch Albom’s new book, Have a Little Faith. This book is similar in many ways to his earlier bestseller, Tuesdays With Morrie. One of the main characters in the new book is Mitch’s childhood rabbi, and scattered throughout are brief passages from his rabbi’s sermons. The following one caught my attention:

“A little girl came home from school with a drawing she’d made in class. She danced into the kitchen, where her mother was preparing dinner. ‘Mom, guess what?’ she squealed, waving the drawing. Her mother never looked up. ‘What?’ she said, tending to the pots. ‘Guess what?’ the child repeated, waving the drawing. ‘What?’ said the mother, tending to the plates.  ‘Mom, you’re not listening.’ ‘Sweetie, yes I am.’ ‘Mom,’ the child said, ‘you’re not listening with your eyes.’”

I love the idea of listening with your eyes. There is so much God has to say to us in his creation but a lot of us are not listening, not with our eyes, anyway. We tend to think we can only hear with our ears, but that is not true. In many instances we will have to use our eyes to hear what God is saying to us.

In viewing the beauty of his handiwork, we might hear him say how much he loves us. In observing some of the devastation caused by our own hands, we might hear him say that we have work to do to restore his creation. In noticing the incredible detail in tiny flowers or lichens on rocks, we may hear God say that he cares about every little detail in our lives. Watching the moon rise, we may hear his challenge to let our “lights shine before men.”

Like the little girl’s mother, some of us think we are listening to God when we’re really not.  The problem is we’re not listening with our eyes.

Dr. Chuck Summers is a pastor and photographer.  His work has appeared  in numerous national magazines and calendars.  He has published three books: Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty; A Year in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park; and A Year in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.  You can view more of Chuck’s work at

This reflection was originally published on Seeing Creation.

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Listening With Our Eyes | The Just Life
March 18, 2010 at 2:00 am

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben DeVries March 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Chuck, that’s a wonderful quote from Albom, and what a great post and thought. In our increasingly urban and suburban society, we need to listen much better, with our ears and eyes, to the animals around us, and those behind closed walls as well. Thanks for a great reflection – Ben (Not One Sparrow)

Scott Williams March 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

Good word. There is so much to learn from the creation around us. I especially appreciate your thought on how we can learn about God’s attention and care for us through the detail of His creation.
Any thoughts on why we have a hard time listening with our eyes?

Chuck Summers March 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Ben and Scott,
Thank you so much for your comments. I’m glad you liked the blog.
Scott, I think we have a hard time listening with our eyes because like the lady in the story cited we tend to be much too busy. It seems like we are always multi-tasking and not really paying attention to anything. My other response would be I think we have to be both open to and intentional about listening with our eyes. It is something we must practice.
Chuck Summers

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