Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Thursday, October 23

This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me—“the end has come upon my people Israel.”
—Amos 8:1-2b

What sparks the divine conversation?

It begins with a simple question. What do you see?  The question is not, “What should you see?”  Nor is it, “What have I told you to see?” It is far simpler than that. What do you see?

Amos' direct and honest answer leads God to explain the basket of summer fruit, which commentators have surmised to mean that Israel's end was near.

Not long ago, at a painting class, the teacher showed us a bowl of fruit. Our task was to paint it. One would have thought that, at the end of the class, most of our paintings would be similar. After all, we were all looking at the same basket of fruit. The pears would be green, the apples red, the oranges orange and the bananas yellow.

Half-way through the class it appeared we had each seen something different. Some of us were intrigued by the faint shadows, and gave them prominence. Others wanted the apples to appear crisp, and so their skins were bright red, whereas others took care to paint some of the soft spots. For some the basket mattered, for others the basket didn't matter much at all.

Each of our paintings was individual, and each was an authentic representation of what we saw when we looked at that basket of fruit. Each of the paintings revealed something about the way we saw the world. And, interestingly enough, our paintings failed when we attempted to paint like our neighbor and decided there was a right way to portray those pears, apples and oranges.

“What do you see?” God asked Amos. Until he answered, the divine conversation couldn't begin. Neither could our paintings.

The art class, and God's word to Amos, were exercises in coherence. How do you see the world? Life asks us. Finding the answer calls for courageous honesty. Sharing it with God, it turns out, can mark the beginning of an extended conversation.

Give us the courage to say what we see, simple though it may be. And then, O God of Life, bless the sacred conversation. In Jesus name, Amen.