Friday, September 4, 2009

Observing is More than Seeing

I started reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to the kids yesterday and with the exception of Holmes's cocaine habit (which I just skip right over) I've fallen in love with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all over again. It's been years since I last read his Holmes stories and I'm enjoying them greatly. Right off the bat in the first chapter of the first story, Holmes says something so profound to Watson by way of explaining his powers of deduction to his perplexed friend. Holmes says, "You see, but you do not observe." And to drive the point home again, "You have not observed. Yet you have seen."

I had this same thought recently while reading The Sistine Secrets. I had some Humanities in College, but mostly remember it being a crash course in famous artists, their most famous works, and their contributions to their respective fields. I "saw" but I did not "observe" the deeper meaning that exists so much of the time. For instance, I've been to Washington, D.C and I've visited the Lincoln Memorial, but I never noticed anything special about the position of Lincoln's hands. The sculptor, Daniel French, made Lincoln "signing" his initials, "A" with his left hand and the archaic "L" with his right hand. I was blown away that I had never noticed that before. The authors of The Sistine Secrets explain French's interest in sign language as related to his making the sculpture of Thomas Gallaudet, founder of the university for the deaf in Washington, D.C., in which Gallaudet is also signing the letter "a".

The authors explain that one of the reasons for these "hidden" meanings is that art was meant to be enjoyed over and over again, not just glanced at and forgotten. Great artists would create a work that had multiple layers of meaning. In this way one could continue to be entertained, inspired, and even challenged by the same work of art.

I can't help but apply this to the Word of God since I love Bible study so much. Have you ever noticed that you can read the same passage of Scripture over and over, and still get something new out of it each time?

"For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

I'm not suggesting that God has in any way obscurred any of the truths in His Word, but Scripture is full of riches that must be mined. When I merely skim over the top, I miss some of it.

I have seen, but not observed.

It's one thing to miss a lot of what goes on around me (so I'm told), or to be a poor student of art. These things are forgiveable. It's quite another thing to miss out on the lessons God has for me in His Word. In this area, I cannot afford to see and not observe.

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.