MAN OF THE HOUSE | Seeing God through intimate eyes

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I had a special photo as the screen-saver on my smartphone for a long time. Whenever I needed a smile, I just looked at that picture of one of the most memorable undertakings in my life — the day I went sky-diving. I had glanced at it countless times when out of the blue a certain realization struck me.

I look just like my dad.

The skin tone, the shape of my face, the gray hair and beard — spitting image. And the eyes. I've got my father's eyes.

It isn't just the physical appearance. We see a lot of things in life the same way. When we look at family and friends, for instance, we look with deep love, often teary-eyed. And yet our eyes aren't actually identical. Differences in age, upbringing and other circumstances make us see the world uniquely in many respects.

I understand and even honor that unique outlook. I'm proud to appear in Jim Eisenbath's image and likeness physically, but we're different people. I have a feeling he likes it that way, the same as I'm proud that my son resembles me outside while having some different perspectives and attitudes inside.

Ultimately, what really counts is deep inside, the heart and soul. That's where we're made in God's image and likeness.

The thought reminds me of one of my favorite Amy Grant songs, "My Father's Eyes." I used to sing it softly to my children while rocking them to sleep as babies. "When people look inside my life," Grant sang, "I want to hear them say ..."

She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes

Eyes that find the good in things, When good is not around;

Eyes that find the source of help, When help just can't be found;

Eyes full of compassion, Seeing every pain;

Knowing what you're going through

And feeling it the same.

That's something I wanted to give my four children: a way of looking at the world with divinely inspired eyes.

Something inside us yearns for a relationship beyond even that from the first person of the Trinity. We don't cozy up to a great and powerful God in heaven, though that's what He is. Instead, we ache for something more personal and warm, more private and relaxed.

I like how the priest invites the congregation to recite "The Lord's Prayer" at Mass. "We dare to say," the priest speaks, and we all follow by boldly calling God "our Father." Bold, indeed, because at the direction and urging of Jesus we're allowed to refer to the God of the universe and Creator of all thing as "our Father."

But we don't have to refer to Him merely as Father. During His prayerful agony in the garden, Jesus addressed God as Abba, an Aramaic word that doesn't have a precise English equivalent. St. Paul used the same word in letters to the Romans and Galatians. Some speculate the word is like daddy or papa, as a small child might use. Many scholars insist it's a respectful yet intimate reference for "my father" that an adult child might say.

In our culture, our adult affection for our fathers tends to be less intimate. At a certain point, we seek our independence from dad. Our fathers provide for us and prepare us to make it in the world. We leave the nest and call upon him primarily when the going gets really tough.

Most of us outgrow calling that earthly father "Daddy." But Jesus and then Paul reminded us never to lose that level of intimacy with God. It's okay to snuggle up next to Him or sit on His lap. He wants us to whisper our secret desires or simply rest in love silently with Him.

God wants us to have our Abba's eyes. 

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