On a balmy night in Chicago, I am wondering what I have learned not to notice.

During my flight out, I finally finished an imaginative novel with an intriguing concept: two cities co-exist within one geographic space. The citizens of each learn at an early age to “unsee” anything or anyone belonging to the other.

It’s far-fetched but it has me thinking: What have we all learned to unsee?


There are obvious answers, like the homeless people I pass on street corners. In our discomfort, we train ourselves not to observe them. 


Here’s a What If: what if our disregard slowly made things invisible? The premise of the novel is that one can learn not to see. Thinking back over the history of man after the Fall, isn’t that what happened spiritually? Early on, angels were visible. Adam’s last view of the garden may have been of the angelic guards preventing his return. Over time, angles became invisible.  A misaligned heart caused myopic sight.

Do we "entertain angels unaware" because they're in disguise, or because we are unable to recognize them?


Scripture repeatedly calls us to use the eyes we have. So as I walk under the El, past neon lights with obvious reminders, I am trying to see what I usually don’t. I’m realizing how hard that is. I sense that this is something the Spirit enables.

I was asked recently to explain my process in this blog – specifically, how I find spiritual purpose in ordinary things. The answer is that it has to start with prayer. Open my eyes, Lord. Show me what you want me to see in this place. Or, in a more convoluted (but no less true) phrasing, Undo my unseeing.


True awareness is a gift.

Father, take off our blinders. We want to see, to hear, to notice what matters to you in every situation we find ourselves. Our sin and self-interest have closed us off to so much around us. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts.



Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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