Learning To See Each Other Through the Eyes of a Child

Adults have grown accustomed to ignoring each other. When we walk down a sidewalk and see a stranger coming the other way, most of us drop our eyes and say nothing as we pass. If we stand in an elevator with a fellow rider, most of us back into the farthest corner in steely silence avoiding touch, conversation and eye contact. At the check-out in the grocery store, most of us don’t even acknowledge or thank the cashier who is helping us, let alone smile. Babies and small children haven’t learned our cultural taboos or adult self-consciousness. Every week at church they make instant friends with the family sitting behind them by sharing their soggy treats, sticky books and toothless smiles. They wave at people in the grocery store and shout things like, “Hey, you want to see my new underwear?”

Once I was holding my young daughter’s hand while we passed an ill-kept homeless man on the street. He had long greasy hair, dirty clothes, and smelled of body odor, liquor and tobacco. I lowered my eyes and kept my distance, hoping he wouldn’t ask me for a handout. My young daughter, on the other hand, stopped and stood perfectly still, then stared reverently at this man in wide-eye awe.

“Look Mom! It’s Jesus!” she shouted excitedly.

The homeless man gently tilted his head in acknowledgement and smiled back at my little girl. Then he glanced up at me with a glimmer in his eyes. We were both humbled at the reverent way my daughter had seen him. When do we stop seeing the amazing beauty in the people around us? When do we stop being excited about our new underwear? When do we stop calling our friends on the telephone to ask if they can come out and play?

When we learn to see each other through the eyes of a child we will rediscover the infinite beauty and divine worth of each son or daughter of God.

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