A sermon preached at Harrisonburg UUA, August 19, 2007
by Rev. John Irvine
A perched hawk can often be seen cocking its head and looking up at the sky with one eye.
It may be estimating the catchability of a bird that could serve as its lunch. More likely, it is cautiously watching another hawk flying over that might dive on it and make it lunch. When I have looked up to see what the hawk is watching, I have often been unable to spot anything up there. Yet the hawk keeps following it across the sky regardless, until the opportunity, or the danger, has passed.
That’s an obvious reminder that much goes on around me beyond my range of vision, that my eye does not have the capacity to see. With the cone cells in their retinas packed together far more thickly than ours, hawks can see about 3 times as far as we can. A bald eagle was once observed making an abrupt right turn, then gliding in a straight line for 3 miles to a lake, where it picked a large fish off the surface. Could you see anything even the size of a large fish at 3 miles? No wonder “eagle-eyed” is a compliment when ascribed to a human!
Physical vision is one thing, but “vision” is also a spiritual term. Spiritually speaking, does your vision’s reach embrace enough? Does mine? My attention was captured recently while reading a book by a theology professor, Douglas Ottati. (Douglas F. Ottati, Reforming Protestantism:Christian Commitment in Today’s World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995, p. 58.) Describing a person whose spiritual vision had been enlarged by developing a religious belief system and practices, he used the phrase “the capacious eye.” That unusual phrase struck me as a worthy subject for this sermon. [Read more…]