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The art of looking up

The art of looking up

I can pinpoint the moment when my dark mood began to lift.

First, some context. I am, in general, a grateful man. My life of travel – and the income that it generates – is a very good thing. But there are times, like today, when the solitude wears on me. Turning around in thirty-nine hours to leave my wife again in a now-too-large house had put me in a small, lead-lined box of discontent.


Then, as I stood at the curb outside of the San Antonio airport, waiting for my Lyft, I looked up. Something about the angles and reflections of the buildings caught my eye. So, I pulled out my iPhone (pocket cameras are such a gift!) and framed the photo above. (Only later did a friend point out how much the circle lamp looks like a UFO!)

When I turned to Scripture later, I was surprised at how often the phrase “lift your eyes” is recorded. Here are just a few:

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? (Isaiah 40:26)

Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” (Zech 5:5)

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)

They all have to do with interruption, with enlarging the scope of one’s present awareness, with taking in something God is presenting in the moment. It seems that it’s easy to be too focused on what’s right in front of us.

So, as 8:18 PM approaches, I head out of my hotel room to look up. In the lobby, I find an amazing abstract view of the hanging lights.

Outside, there is a simple visual metaphor on a restaurant wall for thinking differently.

Finally, I look up to the sky. Above me, thousands of bats are streaming overhead in an undulating current. I am astonished.

I feel my mood lifting. For, though I’m still alone on the road, I have a God who puts gifts around me – delights, like fruit hanging overhead, within reach. I have a Lord who is constantly with me, who nudges me to see his gifts of beauty. Who banishes the clouds of self-pity with his radiant presence.

And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)

Jesus, we are too often focused on the smallest things. The nearest things. Lift our eyes to the beauty around us. Make us aware of the grander gifts you give us. Help us to look up. And see you.

Thoughts or comments on this column? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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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