Which one of your five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) do you rely on the most? I would guess that most would choose the first in the list--sight--without any hesitation. For sighted people, the eyes provide us with what we assume to be the most detailed and accurate picture of the world around us. Seeing is believing, after all. This is actually far from true, however, as anyone who has puzzled over an optical illusion can attest. The eyes (or, more accurately, the mind) are easily fooled.
Ever since first seeing the famous vase with two silhouettes illusion as a young boy I've been hooked. I find optical illusions to be endlessly delightful and intriguing, from the basic ones that we've all seen, to the artistic renderings of M. C. Escher, to the new vistas opened up by computers and the internet. (Those of you reading this online might want to check out this one, for example.) Optical illusions work by doing an end-run around our visual assumptions and expectations, causing us to see things as they otherwise are.
Whenever we have our assumptions and expectations upended we have the option of becoming flustered and discombobulated or, as in the case of optical illusions, being pleasantly surprised and enchanted with the new insights about ourselves and our world that we gain from the experience. Imagine how John the Baptist felt when Jesus came to him to be baptized. Here John had been preaching the immanent coming of the messiah to be accompanied by unquenchable fires and axes laying at the roots of trees, not as the humble carpenter's son that Jesus appeared to be. John and his disciples probably had some very different expectations about who the messiah would be and what his earthly ministry would look like, and it's fair to assume that they experienced a bit of a let down. Opening their minds and hearts to the unexpected way that God brought about salvation, however, changed not only their lives, but the world forever after.
We need not gather at the Jordan River to find ourselves pleasantly surprised by upturned presumptions. At St. Mark's, in fact, such opportunities are many and varied and often right under our noses. Why not try attending a different mass or worship service, for example? Experience the delight in discovering the quiet, intimate, closeness of a weekday mass; find out why the Daily Office has attracted such a devoted following over the past few years; bask in the sublime beauty of Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and get yourself reinvigorated for the work week; or feel the joy and relief of having your sins absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Those who attend only on Sundays will find that each has its own unique charms, and that they are like eating potato chips--you can't have just one, and once you start you won't be able to stop. In this season in which we celebrate the unveiling of Christ's true nature to the world, I also invite you to let St. Mark's reveal its hidden gems and true richness to you through our many worship opportunities. Let your expectations be upended and open yourself to the abundance that is free for the taking.
Treasurer of St. Mark's