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The many eyes of Matilda Moore

Michael McVeigh  |  14 October 2019

A little girl discovers there’s more than one way to see the world.

Matilda had her first set of eyes when she was born. They were good eyes, well suited to making out shapes and colours.

Within a short amount of time, Matilda was learning words for all the things her eyes showed her – ‘Mum’, ‘book’, ‘bottle’ (‘Dad’ came a few months later). She learned that each of these objects had a particular purpose in her world, and she made good use of them
for those purposes.

Her eyes also became particularly good at picking up smiles when she did something that made her parents happy and frowns when she did something that made them unhappy. The smiles made her feel good about herself, while the frowns made her feel sad. She liked the smiles much better.

She tried just doing the things that made her parents smile, but sometimes it was the things that made them frown that were the most fun. She loved eating ice-cream, and hated eating vegetables, even though she knew which her parents preferred. She particularly enjoyed running around in the mud, even though it made her Mum angry when she tracked dirt back into the house.

Eventually she began to wonder why her parents couldn’t just be happy with all the fun things she did? What was the difference between the things that made them happy, and the things that made them unhappy?

Second set of eyes

It was then that Matilda realised that there was a part of the world that you couldn’t see with your first set of eyes. But you could learn to see with a second set of eyes if you tried hard enough.

When her parents got angry at her not eating her vegetables, it was because they wanted her to be healthy. Her mother wasn’t angry that she’d been playing in the mud; she wanted Matilda to think about how to deal with all the dirt afterwards.

In order to see this other part of the world, Matilda had to learn to see what wasn’t right in front of her. If she had the idea to build a fort in the garden made out of cushions, she had to first imagine what might happen to the cushions – could they be put back on the couch afterwards, or would they be ruined by the dirt? How would her mother feel about that?

It was hard work, but eventually Matilda learned to see with both her first and second set of eyes. She became much better at judging what would make people around her happy. She’d pick flowers for her grandparents when she visited them, knowing that her grandmother had a favourite vase she liked to put them in. She would sit with her grandfather while he watched the cricket, knowing that he liked having someone to speak about the game with.

She didn’t get things right all the time. There were times when it was just too tempting to do the fun thing instead of the right thing. But Matilda thought she was doing a pretty good job at making people happy rather than sad. After a while, she began to feel instinctively what was right and what was wrong in a particular situation – her father said that feeling was her ‘conscience’.

Set of beads

Then one day, Matilda was rummaging around her mother’s room when she came across a set of beads with a cross at one end.

‘What are those, Mum?’ she asked.

‘Rosary beads’, said her mother. ‘We use them to pray to God.’

Matilda’s mother explained that she believed that God created the world and everyone in it. More than that, God was still everywhere in the world, and loved every person in it.

‘We pray so we can connect with God’, said Matilda’s mother. ‘Sometimes it’s to ask for help. Sometimes it’s to say thanks for what we have. Sometimes it’s just to feel God’s love.’

Matilda looked around with her first eyes, but there was no sign of God anywhere she could see. She looked around with her second set of eyes, but those were no good at seeing God either.

‘I can’t see God’, said Matilda. ‘How do you know God is everywhere?’ ‘Close your eyes’, said her mother. Matilda did so. ‘Feel God’s love’, said her mother.

At first Matilda felt silly sitting there in the darkness. What was her mother talking about? How was it possible that there was something out there that she couldn’t see, hear or touch? How could you feel something like that?

But after sitting quietly for some time, Matilda began to imagine what it would be like if there was a God out there that loved her. A few moments later, she began to feel a sense of warmth, as if the universe itself was taking her in its arms. The experience lasted only a few seconds before it slipped away, but Matilda couldn’t mistake it.

Third set of eyes

She’d just discovered her third set of eyes.

Many of the other children said they didn’t believe anyone could have a third set of eyes. But as Matilda got more practised at using hers, she realised that connecting with God actually had an effect on how she used her other sets of eyes as well.

She learned to use her first eyes to see the things around her not just as objects to be used, but as gifts from God. She became better at using her second set of eyes to connect with her conscience, because all she had to do was think about what would make God happy or sad.

More than that, the third set of eyes helped her imagine creation from the perspective of God. Suddenly she wasn’t just part of a family, living in a small community. She was part of a whole society, on a whole planet, in a whole cosmos. All of it a gift to be cherished and loved.

As she grew older, there would be many times when Matilda would forget to use her third set of eyes. Life was busy, people were demanding and the world was full of distractions. She’d catch herself thinking of certain people and situations not as gifts that were loved by God, but as ‘things’ that were inconvenient or unpleasant. There were also many times of sadness and loss, when it felt like the world was enveloped in darkness.

But unlike the first set of eyes, which could be blinded, or the second set of eyes, which could be tricked, Matilda’s third set of eyes proved trustworthy even in these most difficult times.

No matter what situation she found herself stuck in, she would always be able see a way to move forward. All she had to do was close her eyes and feel God’s love.


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