Tunnel Vision

When construction began on the mile-long bridge across the lake behind our home I lamented that progress was stealing the scene I treasure. I like to sit in the kitchen window seat and read when I have a few minutes, and now my cherished view was changing fast. The noise persisted from sunrise to sunset and sometimes on into the night, often accompanied by glaring floodlights. What a rude reminder of what I was losing.

One day I was standing at the window looking point blank at the construction zone, fretting about this. I closed my eyes and visualized this same scene before the gigantic equipment invaded our quiet neighborhood. I moved from window to window trying to find an inspiring panorama.

Detective Monk

Maybe if I narrowed my focus, I thought. Then put my open hands on each side of my face, Detective Monk-style. I moved around within my restricted view like a horse with blinders, which blocked out the unwanted aspects of the scene outside the window.

Finally, I settled down in the window seat, content for a moment to view a portion of the lake that was, in one narrow view, undisturbed by the invasion of the urban world. This moment was enough to fix in my memory the beauty of the lake as seen by a detective looking for clues no one else could see. This constricted scene became my secret comfort during the months of construction. I could sit in the window seat and block out the ugly, unwanted parts of my world that I had no control over, and that brought me no joy.

Tunnel vision

So many times in our daily struggle to keep up with the progress and unrelenting expectations of the world, we need tunnel vision to find the rare and beautiful. We need to retreat momentarily to regain the joy we so easily lose in striving always to be aware of the entire scope of life around us. We can be joy detectives!

When we narrow our focus to one significant detail of whatever situation we are in we can find the joy the Lord wants to show us. Whatever the setting or circumstance, we can discover joy hidden somewhere, just waiting for us to find it. Now my eyes see the full view of the lake as it is today with the bridge spanning its beauty. The eyes of my heart narrow to see the lovely scene I found so breathtaking when I first discovered it years ago.

Detecting joy

Any day in church I can choose to use tunnel vision to experience the joy of my children’s baptisms, confirmations and weddings celebrated there, even if I am attending a funeral. With tunnel vision, discovering a photo of the family around the Christmas tree pinpoints the intense joy of that day no matter how long ago it was or how our relationships have changed since then. We can discover the joy of the Lord in the embrace of a friend who spontaneously hugs us when she is unaware we need it the most.

Can you open the eyes of your heart and become a joy detective, finding joy from within your heart wherever you are?

(© 2018 Nancy HC Ward)

Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward, author of Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story, was once a shy convert. She has spent decades writing about conversion, Christian community, and the Catholic faith. After earning a journalism degree, she worked for many years for the Texas Catholic (newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas) and the Archbishop Sheen Center for Evangelization, and later began her own editing service. An active member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a regular contributor to a number of high-profile Catholic publications online, she also has a busy blog on spirituality called Joy Alive.net. She’s a contributing author to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. Now, through her Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story workshops, retreats, book, and DVD, she shares her conversion story at Catholic parishes and conferences, equipping others to share their own stories.

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