Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The overlooked importance of peripheral vision

Trimming our budget and saving the environment, we have swapped one of our two cars for a scooter on which I get to pootle round for local trips. In addition to saving two kinds of green, the move has reminded me that the importance of good peripheral vision is too often overlooked.

I use my mirrors and swivel my head to check for blind spots when I am driving a car, of course, but there’s something about being on two wheels and more at the mercy of careless motorists that makes one rather more vigilant. It suddenly matters a whole lot more what other people on the edges of your life are doing. Sadly.

Because, really, having eyes out for others only so far as they may affect or impact me is truly a short-sighted way to live, isn’t it? And it’s so far different from Jesus’ example. He saw everyone on the edges—of His sight and society. From the little tax collector up the tree to the woman at the well. Even the two thieves hanging on His either side, in the depths of His agony.

Somehow He managed to be focused and fuzzy at the same time. He didn’t get sidetracked from His goal, but He certainly made some diversions en route. He didn’t meet every need that existed, but as far as I can tell He never turned away from one that He actually came across. There’s a difference between being single-minded and wearing blinders.

I remember sitting in a quiet city center newsroom late one night with another colleague. We were the only two journalists at our desks, writing up reports from council meetings we had attended that evening, so they’d be ready for the next day’s first edition.

We looked at each other when the first emergency vehicle lights flashed in the windows as the fire trucks left the nearby station. We agreed that it was probably nothing; we’d just finish our reports and go home, leaving the morning shift to follow up on that call-out.

But when the lights were still blinking outside a few minutes later, I figured I’d wander over to the window and check what was happening. There was a fire in the high-rise block across the street and they were evacuating all the residents. My buddy and I grabbed our notebooks and ran over to get some interviews.

Missing that in-front-of-your nose story would have taken some explaining to the news editor. I wonder how many others I may have missed—not writing, but being a part of—that I may one day need to answer for? Too busy doing my thing to notice theirs, too busy writing to take on another assignment.

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