My mentor Warren Miccio once taught me this important lesson in life. He said, “First we see, then we know, then we become”.
It’s a beautiful statement that I’ve clung to since I began my pursuit of spiritual understanding. What he was telling me is one must be patient in gaining spiritual depth and knowledge. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a process that grows with you. He was also telling me that spiritual understanding unfolds in unique ways. One needs to let the process happen and stay alert in being present to the experience. The seeds of spiritual understanding will take root when we are truly present to the quest of understanding.
Each person is tasked with farming understanding what the world means to him. The job begins when one recognizes that truth is attainable in life and that truth will help in gauging how one needs to act. One churns the ground of this understanding to make it rich. He fertilizes the ground of being when he realizes there’s something more.
There is a seed of truth within each of us. There is a foundation of truth that can be discovered. Jesus recognized this seed in the mustard seed. He noted, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, but when it grows it becomes the largest plant in the garden and eventually becomes a tree where birds come to rest”. Mark 4:30-32. The mustard seed could be interpreted as a kernel of faith or truth that will grow into something more.
It is in the realization of true humility that we can become great beyond our wildest dreams. In Jesus’ teaching humility is ever present. Jesus noted that it was important for one to look at the world and humble one’s self like a child.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”. Matthew 18
One should look at the world with childlike wonder. As much as I would like to think I’m a learned man, I know I don’t have all the answers. But as I look back at my life, I saw miraculous experiences of life unfold that have given me certain spiritual understanding. As I saw the lessons of life unfold before me, I was present to the lessons. I asked the central questions:
What’s happening here? What is it I’m seeing? What may be invisible to me? What is my blind spot in this situation? What do I need to know in moving forward?
Many people viewed this trait as a form of insecurity. In one sense, maybe it was insecurity expressing itself — but asking such questions of others and myself challenged me to go deeper. Although I asked these questions, the most important question I needed to ask was where is God in this experience? What is the truth that underlies the true meaning of the experience? When I was able to see the truth of the experience and sought out others in helping me see the experience from other angles, I was able to analyze the proper steps to take.
I saw the experience for what it was. I gained understanding for what I needed to know and grew into the being I needed to be. As a result of this process I understood where I needed to stand on any given issue in order to become a better person.
This act of seeing, knowing and becoming is an exercise in the spiritual action of mindfulness. One saint who knew that presence of mind better than most was Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower”, or the saint of the “little way”. She was a saint who learned to see, know and become the living embodiment of the presence of God in all she did. She was present to finding God in all things. She inspired another future saint Mother Theresa who is said to have taken her name “Theresa” due to Therese’s humble inspiration. St. Therese taught that it was important to do “little things with extraordinary love”. When one sees, knows and becomes with mindfulness of love in it, he roots out the branches that need to be cut so the tree can bear more fruit.
As we do things with extraordinary love, we see the experience of God’s grace unfold before our eyes. In looking at life and following in the way of St. Therese, we can see what needs to be done, engage in the process with love, understanding through our act of engagement and become the children of God we’re called to be.
Consider a situation in your life and ask the following questions:
What’s happening here?
What is it I’m seeing?
What may be invisible to me? What is my blind spot in this situation?
What do I need to know in moving forward?