A Week Of Gratitude – Sight

by Paul on February 1, 2010

Opera Glasses.lowI want to spend a week thanking God for all the gifts that I have received through my senses.  Each day this week, I’ll recall a few of the gifts given through the traditional five senses.

Five of the most amazing things I’ve seen:

  1. In the Vatican Art Museum many years ago, I wandered into a small chapel that had been designed, built and decorated by Fra Angelico. It was so beautiful that it literally took my breath away
  2. The haut-relief on the outside of the Choir enclosure at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  The story of our salvation told in 3-dimensional colored wood and plaster (?)   Simply astounding.
  3. I know I should probably say the Grand Canyon or somewhere equally impressive but, for me, Banbas Crown at the most northerly tip of Ireland is what most shouts out the glory of God’s creation.
  4. In the Frick Collection in New York City, there is a painting of a suburban 19th Century London scene titled Early Summer Morning, Mortlake Terrace. It is my favorite painting in the world and I make the security guards at the museum nervous because I stand before it for so long each time I visit.
  5. The Dai Butsu [Great Outdoor Buddha] at Kamakura, Japan.  I was once fortunate enough to be alone at the statue as snow began falling softly upon it.  Sublime.

Okay, now it’s your turn.  What images make your heart sing with gratitude to God?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith Gould February 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

In no particular order, these images never fail to open my heart and life my spirit and reveal God’s glory and presence:

1) The sight of my cats curled up and snoozing in each other’s furry arms.
2) The view of the “Stockbridge Bowl” from the front steps of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, MA. The building was once owned by Jesuits! HUGE mosaic of St. Ignatius in the Main Chapel.
3) Considered cheesy by some, but the painting of St. Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage has always moved me: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sara/hod_89.21.1.htm. I relate to the expression on her face!
4) Ants, especially if they’re working together to drag something.
5) Tiny little green plants that grow in between cracks in concrete sidewalks.

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Eric February 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

1. Lauterbrunnen Valley, south of Interlaken, Switzerland
2. The cathedral at Reims.
3. St. Germaine of Auxerre in Paris
4. Niagara Falls
5. Muiredach Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

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Eric February 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

I have looked several times at my list, and I end up hating the limitation of five. I have nowhere to put the painting of St. Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger at the Frick collection in NYC.

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Marg February 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

So many to sort through!

The Sleep of the Infant Jesus by Luini Bernardino, the detail of Mary and the Baby Jesus. You must see this.
Andrew Wyeth’s work especially The Trodden Weed and Faraway. The stories behind his work often makes me like them more.
The Magpie by Monet
My daughter, any day of the week!
Lake Champlain on the Burlington,Vt. side.

I have more, but will limit myself today!

M.

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Maura February 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

The sun rising over the Atlantic. A favorite since I first watched it with my grandmother as a child and one that I still love sharing with my son when we camp in the summer.

My son’s smile in all of its toothless and toothy transformations.

Books I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the sight to be able to read and savor the words of poetry, scripture, etc. Hearing them is good but just not the same as knowing that by the gift from all those who taught me to read I can open any book and go so many wonderful different places and times.

The Stained Glass windows of St. Leo’s church in Leominster Ma where I grew up. They tell the stories I have loved so well and surround me with a sense of God’s wonder and light.

The Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum in Boston. You really can’t pick just one wonderful piece because the eclectic arrangement adds so much to the over all effect.

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Phil Ewing February 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm

This is a good exercise – thanks Paul.
Here goes with mine but they will probably all change by tomorrow !!
The Mezquita or Mosque at Cordoba in Spain. It’s tentlike forest of supporting pillars has horseshoe-shaped arches above the lower pillars and alternate brick and stone in the arches, create a stunning red and white striped pattern. There are more than 850 coloured granite jasper and marble pillars in total. Sunlight streams in from windows combined with artificial light from the thousands of small oil lights and then there is the history behind it of Muslim and Christian Spain which is even more amazing.
The beach and sea on the island of Formentera : The whitest sand and the bluest warmest sea I have ever seen or swam in. Heaven.
A new born baby’s perfectly formed hands and feet : Awesome.
The song Oh Happy Day sung by Full Gospel Choir or from the film with Whoopi Goldberg in it. Pure joy.
Donkeys. I love them. They teach me so much. They seem to know so much more than I do.

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Paul February 2, 2010 at 12:08 am

Meredith,

The painting of Joan of Arc, at first blush, isn’t exactly to my taste, but I love that you love the little green shoots that come up in the cracks of the pavement.

Paul

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Paul February 2, 2010 at 12:10 am

Eric,

I shall have to Google Lauterbrunnen Valley and, I am ashamed to say because I lived in Paris for 2 years, I don’t know St. Germaine of Auxerre. The other three sights I know and love.

Paul

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Paul February 2, 2010 at 12:13 am

Marg,

The only one I am in any way familiar with is Lake Champlain from VT. I don’t know the Bernardino work you mention, but I shall search for it. Monet & Wyeth I’m aware of, but not these particular works. As for your daughter – I’m sure she is the most beautiful sight of all.

Paul

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Paul February 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

Maura,

I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardiner museum about 30 years ago. It was wonderful then, I bet it still is! I know exactly what you mean about watching the sunrise over the Atlantic, except that in Ireland we used to watch the sunset.

Isn’t it funny how evocative of memories stained glass can be? I can visualize the stained glass window about the altar of my childhood parish with complete clarity.

How wonderful of you to have included books. Amen to all you said on that and I will take your word on your toothsome and toothless son.

Paul

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Paul February 2, 2010 at 12:22 am

Phil,

I have never had the chance to go to Cordoba to see the mosque, but I want to see it now. I don’t even know where the Isle of Formentera is but I’m going to Google it as soon as I finish this.

I vaguely remember Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act” belting out “Oh, Happy Day” but I shall listen up again. I agree with you on how perfect a baby’s fingers and toes look and, as for donkeys, I can’t share your passion for them but can appreciate it.

Paul

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Marika February 2, 2010 at 2:45 am

I am grateful for cultural heritage in my country. It is fascinating!
Here is just a small glimpse:
http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/USL/00314
and video:
http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?USL=00314&topic=video

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Rima N. February 2, 2010 at 8:26 am

Well … im going to speak frmo a different perspective i guess !!!!
living in Jordan which is one of the Muslim Arab country, i think i coudl just find plenty of things giving me this ultimate feel of happiness oncei see or even remember so im gonna start with some:
– we have a very very beautiful public park with unique archetictical buliding that is located high in the middle of the park garden, so once you look form it far away you just feel this high spiritual sense of being flying in the air as in a fairy tale
- From time to time i pass through a road to my work and there on one of the trafic lights there a person stands there selling the flowers and other stuff, still i like to passby there to see this person face full of happiness trying to do hsi work being very intersted in it so it just give me a push forward evrytime i see him
- The day which we as Christian youth group visited some of the poor families to give them some donations for the Christmass 2009, it was amazing moments since in one of the houses there was a guy with epilipsy so we insisted in seeign him to pray with him still he was hiding in his sister house so we went up there and he just passed near us without saying just looking a very strage unforgottable look in his eyes and until now im tryign to figure out what he meant with it coz unfortunatly he couldn`t express his feelign only through looking !!!
so i guess 3 for today is enough since you should know im a talkative person so by next time will listed another two :)

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Denise February 2, 2010 at 10:33 am

So many choices on this one! Here are my answers today, which I’m sure would change if you asked me at a different time.

- My beautiful niece
- The grand churches I saw in Spain and Italy
- Multiple Art Institute paintings, including El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin
- Lake Superior’s blue water (much bluer than Lake Michigan which I can see more regularly)
- Wedding wandered into in Salamanca—this as much for the surprise as for the sight itself
- A shelf full of books (Maura, thanks for helping me remember to include this one!)

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Eric February 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

I translated (and misspelled) Saint Germain l’Auxerrois to St. Germaine of Auxere. It is on the right bank, a reasonable walk from Notre Dame. Its interior is so perfectly Gothic, and few tourists go there so the quiet affords a deeply religious experience. http://www.paris-walking-tours.com/saintgermainlauxerrois.html
I prefer the Lauterbrunnen Valley over Yosemite Valley.

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Cathy February 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I agree with Phil that this is a very good exercise, and there are lots of things I could list. However, this topic particularly brings to mind my wonderful husband Mike, as he is blind. It’s really only when you’re close to some-one who can’t see that you realise just what a big impact this has on your life – and it deeply affects both of us, of course.

But more than anything else, I always think of Mike in connection with that story in John’s Gospel (ch.9), about the healing of the man born blind. He is the opposite of the Pharisees in the story: he cannot see physically, but he can certainly “see” the things that really matter. He is a true disciple of Jesus who lives out his faith in the little things of everyday life, and in particular he has always given a high priority to our marriage and family. He makes me feel so loved and so special, and he was a top-class father to our son and daughter right through their growing-up years. They are now both well-adjusted, responsible, caring, community-spirited young adults who have each also found a wonderful soul-mate and life partner. The result of Mike’s commitment is there for all to see!

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Paul February 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Denise,

I think we need to explain that by “Art Institute” we Chicagoans mean our wonderful art museum.

I never realized that Lake Superior had bluer water than Lake Superior. I shall be on the lookout!

I love wandering into things like weddings or other ceremonies. The sweet things in life… like your niece.

Paul

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Paul February 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Eric,

I recognize the steeple/tower but, sadly, have never been inside.

Paul

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Paul February 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Cathy,

What a lovely and fitting tribute to your husband. It is clear how grateful you are to him. Brava!

Paul

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Paul February 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Marika,

Fascinating. Thanks for the web links.

Paul

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mary kujawa February 4, 2010 at 5:34 am

waiting in lowertown after weekday mass for a city bus an old man sat eating out os a paper some gooey garbage. i was given grace to see jesus in him and extended my hand to him. he was shy but finally reached out his gooey hand and clasped mine. he had only one finger on hand and then he asked me to skip the next bus and stay and talk to him. after finally getting on a bus i reached into my things for a hand sanitixzer to remove bacteria but the entire experience was a wonderful blessing from my heavenly father. thank you for loving me so much abba father for allowing me to spend time with you on the streets of st. paul.

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Paul February 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Mary Kujawa,

What a lovely testimony. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Paul

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Paul February 8, 2010 at 4:38 am

Rima N.,

From Jordan! Thank you very much for sharing your unique perspective. Isn’t it amazing how much we can see of God in the world if we take the time and the trouble to look?

Paul

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