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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Eyes to See Y'all

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

I was at a mall, a couple of Mondays ago, looking at all of the people. Beautiful people, and diverse. I live currently in a location with less diversity, which is why, I think, I noticed. The many races, and so many faces. But none of them would look at me.

It made me sad. Days later, I still felt the disappointment. Everyone going about their own business, in pairs or clusters. And I was alone. Not that being alone was any problem. I chose it. One last errand to make a final decision about the dress I’d wear to my son’s upcoming wedding. One last sweep of a mall I’ve visited many times before. But this time. I don’t know. Maybe it was something in my spirit. Or maybe the Spirit opened my eyes to see. The beautiful faces. And I mean this. They nearly took my breath with their exquisite beauty. But they didn’t seem to see. Me.

This is not at all about me being seen. Not this time. No. It was just this strange longing I had to be connected. To look into eyes and share some sort of something. I see you, and you see me. And we are here together.


There was one. Now I do remember. One woman, still masked, our eyes met, I smiled, her eyes sparkled. Yes. There was one.

Why am I still thinking about this?

My online classroom. Now studying Ephesians. The participants on the video are diverse, on purpose. No doubt the classroom was chosen with this in mind. There are different accents, and different backgrounds. Men and women. And each brings something unique to the table. The online teacher wants us to see this. How Paul’s letter, written to the early church, was intentionally penned. An “apocalypse-revelation” of a new humanity bridging heaven and earth.

He uses the word y’all. (Tim Mackey, not Paul.) And I like this word so much, I find myself adding it to my own vocabulary, using it in text messages. “Are y’all coming up to the lake tonight?”

Here’s a sample, in Mackey’s own unique translation:

For this reason, I bow my knee to the Father, from whom every family in the heavenlies and on the earth is named, so that he would give to y’all, according to the richness of his glory, power to be strengthened through his Spirit in your inner human, that the Messiah would dwell in your hearts through faith, having been rooted and established in love so that y’all would be empowered to comprehend along with all of the holy ones what is the width and length and height and depth—to know the far-beyond knowing love of the Messiah so that y’all would be filled up unto all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

And y’all thought this passage was a mouthful before?!

The point being. Y’all (including me) are in this together.

We westerners are so used to thinking about me. me. me. But Paul’s real meaning is indeed and actually WE.

After this year of Pandemic. Quarantine. Online learning. Social distance. Working remotely. (My husband and I will very likely continue being “remote” forever.) And so much Division. Who is my friend, and who is my foe? Isn’t this a big part of the reason we’d rather not take the risk of eye-to-eye connecting?

Such a loss.

It is a loss.

Paul, from the beginning, wanted the church to comprehend LOVE that is beyond knowing. And this love is not just ME + JESUS.

It’s Y’ALL of us in the fullness of HIM.

(How’s that for a catchy t-shirt logo?)

But I’m totally serious. I want this. I want it in my normal sphere of daily interactions. But I want it out there, too. I want to look into the eyes of a stranger and exchange some kind of far-beyond knowing love.

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