Maggie, even though she's eleven and in middle school now, still likes it when we read together. Now, before you start thinking I'm this amazing mom who still reads with her kids all the time--and even does crafts with them--think again. Maggie and I actually have time to sit and read together about once a month or so. So it's not a super-big deal that I do this, unless you're Maggie and you think it's wonderful.
So last night we were reading the book that we've been reading together for, oh, about the past year or so. It's a funny (in the strange sort of way) little book called "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. Maggie read it back in 4th grade and liked it so much that she wanted me to read it. It is, after all, a book about words and plays on words. Really fun if you're into that sort of thing like we are.
I know. We're weird that way.
But as we were reading about the main character, Milo, saying goodbye to his new friend, Alec, at the end of a chapter about sight and perspective and point of view, I came across this passage:
"'I'm sorry you can't stay longer,' said Alec sadly. 'There's so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there's a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open.'
"They walked for a while, all silent in their thoughts, until they reached the car and Alec drew a fine telescope from his shirt and handed it to Milo.
"'Carry this with you on your journey," he said softly, 'for there is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye. Through it you can see everything from the tender moss in a sidewalk crack to the glow of the farthest star--and, most important of all, you can see things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. It's my gift to you.'"
As I was reading I thought about the Bible study lesson I had worked on just that day. It was on a passage in the book of James (2:1-13) that talks about favoritism and how we shouldn't give the best seat in the house, so to speak, to those who seem to be well-dressed and wealthy. In other words, don't favor the rich. James points out that the poor have something to offer as well.
The passage from "The Phantom Tollbooth" reminded me of the Bible study lesson because I suddenly thought, I wish I could see people as they really are, not just as they seem to be. Wouldn't that make things easier? If we could truly see people from the inside, rather than from the outside, we'd be much better at following James' advice:
"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."
James couldn't be more plain. And yet, it seems, I fail at this on a regular basis. I judge others. I do show favoritism. I wish I didn't, but I do.
I need Milo's telescope, I think, so that I stop looking at the surface of things, of people, and start looking deeper, at who they really are. I think, if I would only keep my eyes open, I'd find hidden treasures of wealth and knowledge that I didn't even know existed.