I am walking through Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle on a beautiful summer morning. A gorgeous sunny day. Temperature in the low 70’s. A cool light breeze blowing in off Puget Sound.
It’s quiet here amongst all the old brick buildings. There are a few tourists here and there but mostly it’s fairly quiet here this morning.
Underneath the Pergola on an old park bench sits an elderly woman with a big pile of sunglasses next to her. She looks like an old crone, ancient and wizened yet with happy, tearful, and joyful eyes.
She seems to be having the best time trying on all the different sunglasses. She puts on a pair, then she seemingly changes, and then squeals with laughter as she removes each pair.
Our eyes meet and she waves me over.
I introduce myself. “Hi there. I’m John”.
The old woman smiles and laughs and says her name is “Irene”.
I ask her what she is doing that is giving her so much joy.
Irene pats the bench next to her and beckons me to sit down.
“Look at that art gallery across the street – the one with tourists about to enter the front door”, she says.
Then she asks me to remove my sunglasses and hands me a pair of her sunglasses and asks me to put them on.
“What do you see?” she inquires.
“Well, I had not noticed them before but the paintings in the window are all dreary and depressing. They make me feel sad. The tourists all entering the front door look sad and depressed”.
She removes my sunglasses. I see she has labeled them “Grief”.
Irene smiles sweetly and giggles.
She hands me another pair. I put them on.
I look over at the art gallery again.
The paintings look terrifying and clearly the patrons entering the gallery are scared. I see them recoiling in anxiety and constantly looking over their shoulders.
Irene giggles again and removes my sunglasses. These are labeled “Fear”.
Another new pair. Now the paintings inspire me. I see a Hero’s Journey and great bravery. The patrons look inspired.
More giggling. These sunglasses are labeled “Courage”.
On and on we go. Irene has like 40 pairs of sunglasses! It’s a big pile! And every single pair gives me an entirely new perception and experience.
OK, I get it. Somehow the lenses in each pair of sunglasses are coloring the world that I see.
But then we get to the end of the pile.
“But which one of them is right? Which one is the actual truth?”
Irene doubles over into fits of hysterical laughter.
“You ask the wrong question! Ask instead ‘What does God see?’”
Irene removes my last pair of sunglasses.
“Just see. Don’t think! Just SEE. Just SEE. JUST SEE!”
Peace. Infinite Peace.
We look at each other and both smile a knowing smile. And then we both fall over backwards clutching our bellies in peals of laughter and tears.