What did we expect to see?


My friend spent time with my Sweet Al and me while she recovered from eye surgery. I put all my projects and deadlines on hold and counted the days as a vacation.

As movie buffs, we enjoyed hours of watching movies. We became Siskel and Ebert. After one of the films, I said, “That movie was horrible.” But we couldn’t stop talking about it. The next morning, we were still talking about it.

She said it was exquisitely done. I said it was dark. She said it was artistic. I said it was controlling. We couldn’t quit analyzing it. The film, “Phantom Thread,” had mixed public reviews. One review said, “Shakespeare tells us clothes make the man.”

The main character of the movie was Reynolds Woodcock, a fictitious character modeled after several European dress designers. He was no mere designer. He was an artist and believed only perfect bodies should wear his creations. His designs didn’t belong on just anyone.

He was focused on the externals. Internally, Woodcock was weak, self-serving and shallow to the core. He spoke to the world with his fastidious extravagant designs, but he had nothing to say from his heart.

During our time spent together, my friend and I entered into probing conversations about everything from the latest movie and where we are in our lives to the news of the day. As we sat at the river, we breathed in the beginning of fall and talked. I asked her, “How did we conduct our lives? Were we self-serving and shallow like Woodcock?”

She answered, “Externals have only satisfied me momentarily. I have chosen to focus my life on pleasing my Heavenly Father.”

I responded, “Are we seeing clearly? There is no longer gray. Life is blatantly black or white. People call evil good, and good evil and they believe what they think they see.”

I immediately went into Bible study mode. When friends come to our house, they get a Bible lesson. They expect it, so it isn’t a surprise.

I launched out into deeper waters with my friend: “When the crowds saw John the Baptist, they were looking for a man dressed in expensive suits. They were more concerned with his appearance than they were with his character.

When Jesus walked the earth, people’s perceptions were turned upside down. He asked them, “What were you looking for?” They missed God because they expected his messenger to look differently and his message to be different.

Remember John the Baptist. He was the voice coming out of the wilderness, wearing animal skins, eating honey and locusts. He surely didn’t look like God’s man.

I had her attention, so I continued the Bible study. “Did you know the word ‘wilderness’ in the Hebrew comes from a root word that means voice? Barren times in our lives are when God speaks to us in the hidden place of the heart.”

I wonder, as these words fly off the pages, coming out of the Lower Blanco, what do people see? When my Sweet Al and I go to the store, my readers will come up to me and introduce themselves and tell me they read my column. They say, “I don’t know who I was expecting to see. I always thought you would looked differently.”

Well, I was shuffling down the grocery store aisle holding onto the basket for balance. My Sweet Al was following behind me, carrying my purse over his arm and looking lost. I was explaining to Al over and over again where to get the sale item.

That is how we looked at the time. But, the most important part of us is what our hearts were thinking, which no one could see.

Final brushstroke: What were we expecting to see? A lot of voices are clamoring for our attention on the exterior, but to whom are we listening on the inside and who is the most important voice to our hearts?

Readers’ comments

“Good morning, Betty, Read your article, Green Ice Cream Cones, this morning and it brought back a flood of memories. I also worked in a restaurant while in high school. And my comment would be, ‘it’s not for sissies!’

“It’s hard work with little reward. I went home with tired feet and a hungry belly many times. So tired, I’d cry myself to sleep. I feel a devotion stirring, lol! Love you, JD Prescott, Arizona”