Have You Been Seen?

How often do we move on before we’ve even registered the significance of where we are in the present? We’re like fresh puppies salivating at the next thing and the next thing and the next.
Pause. Breathe. Stay.
I found out recently about an artist who simply sits. She sits in modern arts museums at a table for 8 hours a day. She doesn’t get up, doesn’t eat or drink or releave herself. She just sits and waits.

An empty chair opposite her invites people to sit also. As they do, they stare into the eyes of a stranger with what often begins as an awkward shuffling in the chair. Gradually, this inward squirm adjusts to the bizarre and foreign nature of the situation. Slowly, but surely, if the person allows it, they become seen. Their walls fall and defences peel from their skin as they let the moment embrace them.
Some take a long time to reach this moment of being seen, others are more comfortable with the nakedness of staring into the eyes of a stranger. But either way, they are changed.
As an artist of sorts myself, I’m used to hearing about these kinds of works and projects that push the boundaries of normality. However, I confess, upon hearing about this work at first, I internally scoffed. But as I sat with it (no pun intended), the genius of it dawned on me.

The extreme nature of this work is not stupid, it’s required. It’s required because we are so far removed from ourselves, so uncomfortable with the idea of sitting with our own thoughts and desires, let alone having someone else peer into them.

It’s a strong word, but I wonder if at the core of us all is a seed of shame. A great fear of true vulnerability. It’s as though we’ve been covering our nakedness with the leaves of Eden for ages past. And yet, one of the most healing things we as humans can experience is being seen, and without words, accepted wholly.

As the Creator has offered us this gift, I believe we can offer it to others also. And what a gift…to offer a space for others to sit before us and be truly seen.

(Photography by Amy Dwight.)

One thought on “Have You Been Seen?

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