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Things Unseen

I'm a pretty black and white person when it comes to viewing things.

Things are true or false. They are, or they aren't. They work, or they don't. I can influence something, or I can't.

The Serenity Prayer works for me. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Philosophy does not work for me. I don't like arguing what-ifs, I want to know what is.

Except that I love negative space, or things unseen.

I love taking pictures of reflections: something that is there, but not really. In publishing, blank space is used to draw the eye to a particular place on the printed page. In art, negative space can be used to highlight a particular part of the design.

Dave and I ran into a negative-space restaurant logo that we each interpreted differently. The waitstaff offered a third interpretation.

In 1997, a French fashion designer was invited to design vestments for clergy participating in the World Youth Day event being held in France. The New York Times reported that designs by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac would be “full of colors – blended into rainbows representing the different continents, red, blue, green, yellow and orange.” The rainbow flag had been in use as a symbol of the LGBTQ community for 20 at this point. What was unseen?

The things that are unseen define the things that are seen.

"We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." (Lutheran Confession of Sins)

"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, make of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." (Nicene Creed)

The depth of our faith lies in the things unseen. Every week we profess faith in a God we cannot see physically. We can only see God through the works he accomplishes through other people. We find God in the unseen.

The unseen things in our society have been making themselves seen lately.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report about child sexual abuse in the Catholic church brought the unseen into the open. Some victims had remained silent over the years. Others had spoken out and been ignored. Individuals remained unseen by choice or chance. Did we see their hurt and suffering in their invisibility? How do we respond now that the unseen has become seen?

Women who have been assaulted and harassed have long remained silent because of fear or necessity. The #MeToo movement is giving them voice to speak out and share their hurt and anger, and finally be seriously heard. Did we see their anger and pain in their invisibility? How do we respond now that the unseen has become seen?

We are surrounded with people who are hurt, damaged, grieving, hungry, suffering. They visit our food pantry, they sit beside us on the bus, the sit beside in worship. The things unseen in us create the negative space that focuses our eye on the things that are seen. Does our faith give us the opportunity to invite people to share their unseen selves? How do we respond when we know there are unseens within each of us?

So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

--Ann Warner

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