By Rabbinic Pastor Cantor Lisa Levine
We can see so much from looking into someone’s eyes. Think of the phrase “if looks could kill”, when you rolled your eyes at something that was said or a time when a kind look from someone nurtured your spirit. One of the most rewarding roles in my work as a chaplain is sharing my Music and Memory program. At one group home I visit almost all of the residents are non-verbal and have suffered either a stroke, brain injuries or have dementia and cannot speak. It is a great gift to be able to share music which stirs the soul and soothes the spirit. Although they cannot always tell me in words what they are feeling, their eyes tell me so much! I’ve learned to look deeply, watch closely and wait for the expressions which telegraph appreciation, frustration, recognition, joy, pain and love.
We use our expressive eyes to show our gratitude and support and to show our disappointment, hatred, frustration, sadness and delight. Our gaze can be soft and inviting or it can be hard and menacing. Think about how you are feeling while reading these words and soften your gaze for a moment, take a deep breath and invite yourself to relax your shoulders and release your breath outward. Notice how you feel.
I’d like to invite us to practice becoming more aware of the thoughtful way we use our eyes every day to heal and to hurt, to show kindness and perhaps doubt. Gazing into the eyes of those who are unable to speak in any other way has taught me how powerful our eyes are and that they truly are the windows to the soul.