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Windows of the Soul

text by Claudia McDonnell
photos by Richard Walker


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somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence.
— e e cummings

Sight and silence go together. Eyes work quietly. Other kinds of communication require sound – the spoken word, the knock on the door, the melody. Eyes make no sound, yet they can speak with an eloquence that surpasses any words. The language of eyes begins where words leave off.

Eyes tell stories. Who has not read the mingled emotions – joy, pride, hope – in the eyes of a new parent? Who has not sought and found understanding in the eyes of a friend? Eyes can reflect an image of oneself in the heart of another; they can comfort, console, admonish, encourage. Eyes can draw someone close, or shut him out more surely than stone walls and iron bolts.

It is possible to know a great deal about someone by looking into his eyes. Even when words lie, eyes tell the truth. Thoughts and feelings that are never spoken aloud do not remain hidden; they become visible in the eyes. Love and hurt, pain and ecstasy find expression in a gaze or a glance when words fail.

Nowhere is the silent message from the soul more poignant than in the eyes of the poor. In them one reads many things: sorrow, supplication, hope, frustration, resolve. Those who possess little may have little to say, but they are not mute. Their eyes speak for them.

The children of the poor have a special look. They want to survive; they want to believe that life is good. They watch and wait patiently for someone who will care about them enough to help them. Hope comes easier to the young, for whom time and age have not yet sharpened the edge of despair.

Everywhere today there is abundant talk about the poor – explanations advanced, solutions offered. Everywhere there are words. Perhaps there should be more silence. Perhaps it is more instructive simply to look into the eyes of the poor, to read the message there, to recall the Gospel and see Christ there.

To Thee I lift up my eyes,
   O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look
   to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
   till He have mercy upon us.
    — Psalm 123

When David the psalmist raised his eyes and his voice to the Lord, he compared himself and his people to servants. When God answered their cry in the person of Christ, He made them servants no longer, but sons. And to His sons He gives the privilege of being His hands and His heart for each other. As long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me. God works in and through His people, so that in giving and receiving they may find Him.

The eyes of the needy plead with silent eloquence; they speak without talking. The hands of those who help often reach without touching, yet they touch in spirit, anticipating the day when those who love God will embrace in His kingdom.

Do not fail those who weep, but share the grief of the grief-stricken.
— Ecclus. 7:34

The eyes that weep in sorrow today can weep for joy tomorrow. Eyes that grow dull with despair can burn with the light of hope. And the eyes of those who share each other’s burdens reveal the peace of heart that dwells within.

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Tags: Reflections/Inspirational