Eyes to See

Evidence of God is all around us! View from Newfound Gap in the Smokies.

I recently had my 20 week ultrasound. I am always amazed at how the ultrasound tech can look at that black and white image and see so much. Certainly there are some things that are clear to see like a profile, or a hand, or foot, etc. However, as they start pointing out the finer details of your baby, organs and such, I cannot help but be amazed. I know the ability to see such detail has taken time and training. Both of us are looking at the same screen, but for me I don’t have the eyes to see what is right before me.

Isn't this true of how we see the world around us? God is all around, but do we have the eyes to see?

Tate has named our little boy beautifully. But before, I tell you the name, I have to give a little back story. Just another reason why I continue to marvel at God’s active and real presence in my life. Another reason why I see God in my daily life.

Last spring our good friend, Christian, was preparing to go to the Holy Land. He asked if we had any special prayer intentions. I asked that he pray that God bless us with another child. Christian assured me he would pray, but jokingly said, “If you do conceive and have a son you have to name him Athanasius.” I agreed, knowing the strength and faith of St. Athanasius. Tate just sort of shook his head like he was crazy.

For those who don’t know, St. Athanasius lived in the 4th century. He was a bishop of Alexandria and was a prominent defender against the Arian heresy. This heresy denied the divinity of Christ. To the Arians, Christ was no more than an exalted man. Of course, this dangerous heresy was completely false, but it had been embraced by many Christians and bishops at the time. Athanasius steadfastly defended that Christ was true God and true man. As a result he was sent into exile many times. Athanasius never stopped his defense of Christ and in the end the Arian heresy was defeated. If you have ever wondered why we say in Mass in the Nicene Creed that Christ was true God and true man - it was due to this heresy. Another thing St Athanasius is known for are his writings on the Incarnation. The Incarnation is when the Word (Jesus) became flesh at the Annunciation.

Back to the story! Christian did pray for us as promised. He chose to do this at the traditional site of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would bear a son. Mary replied with perfect faith, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word.”

When he returned from his trip in June, Christian said we would see if his prayers were “efficacious.” On July 12, we discovered to our joy that we were expecting another child. When we calculated the due date what did it happen to be? March 25th, the day we celebrate the Annunciation! Of all the places in the Holy Land, Christian chose to pray for us at the site of the Annunciation and our due date is on the Annunciation. Further, Athanasius is known for his writings on the Incarnation that occurred on the Annunciation. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up!

Some may find me silly and consider this to be a mere coincidence. For me, looking through eyes of faith, I would counter that refusing to see even the possibility of God’s hand is blindness.

I know that Christian did not really expect us to name our child Athanasius, however, I was thrilled to hear that Tate chose the name Thomas Athanasius for our little boy. I will tell Thomas when he is older about this story. I pray it will be a reminder to him that he was loved and prayed for before we even knew he was going to come into our lives. It is a powerful testament to the power of prayer and the assurance of God’s loving care.

Like the ultrasound tech, having eyes of faith requires time and training. I know I sound like a broken record; but prayer, the sacraments, and filling our life with good and holy things changes how we see everything. Over the years I have slowly learned more about the saints and the details of Christ’s life. I am no more intelligent than anyone else, but this desire to learn helped allow me to connect the dots and see what was right before me.

We are never alone, Christ is more present than the person we see next to us. Christ wants to be intimately part of our daily existence. Do we desire this closeness? Can we still look at the world around us with wonder and awe at how He works in our life? Do we see what is right before us? Or do we think ourselves above such nonsense and only see what is in our physical world?

The spiritual world is even more real than what our physical senses can see, touch, hear and taste. Our physical world will fade away, but the spiritual will remain. If we become meek and humble of heart, and ask the Divine Teacher to show us, we will have eyes of faith to see how present Christ is in our daily life.

Thomas Athanasius. What a great name!! JMJ