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I’m interested in writing within the tensions of our humanity with the both and: our joy and our grief, beauty and brokenness, courage and fear, celebration and rage, and everything in between. 

My hope is that my writing has the ability to connect to what lies at the core of being human. Whether I am writing poetry, a newsletter, or an essay, my writing aims to be honest, attentive, and centered around connection. May these words housed here meet you and encourage you. 


June 28, 2022

What Do You See? Compilation: Dec. 2018

What do you see? Compilation 

November- December 2018

Sight. Vision. Perspective. It is all a beautiful mystery to me. We all see from different vantage points. Sometimes we choose what we see and what we don’t see. Sometimes we cannot choose what we see and that can be the most painful element to sight. Sometimes those without physical sight see it all more than those we can physically see.

The word see encompasses so much. You can take this question of “what do you see?” in an infinite amount of directions and that’s what I love about the question. But, even more so, I love this question because people’s answers actually help us to see more.

For those of you who wrote— thank you. Thank you for your willingness to share your words. I am challenged and encouraged by each of you and I know every one else will be too. And for those of you reading— thank you. It will take time to get through each of these, but it is worth every minute allowing yourself to see what others see and think. 

And for anyone still considering writing out their thoughts— do it. Take courage. You don’t have to have to be a “writer” to be a writer. Only you can share with others what you see— no one can see for you and no one can put your words down for you. Your thoughts are needed because we are all out here just learning from one another. Allow the process of writing and sharing to be messy. The mess of it is what makes it all so beautiful and worth it. 

Enjoy my friends. These are special. 

I see the vague image of a tree. A normal, healthy, thriving tree. A tree that is driven, walked, and ran by every day. Trees get this treatment everywhere , but there is something about this specific tree. This tree has seen a lot of love. I say that, because I have experiences and received a lot of love around the very yard/ neighborhood that rat very tree stands in, so I can only imagine the moments that that tree has witnessed. That tree, to me, is an image/metaphor for our God. Our God sees those moments. In fact, he ultimately creates them. Just like God, that tree has heard laughs, cries, joyful and wicked screams of the people of this place, vague/deep conversations. It has heard hearts be vocalized into life-giving words. Through all of that, most importantly, just like God, that tree has stayed right where it is to listen and see the days go by in this incredible city. No one really knows it, but this is the first time I have voiced my opinion about this tree. As weird as it sounds, this tree specifically brings me peace, because I know it has seen some incredible lives be transformed around it.

Carter Cross

What do you see?

Lately, I see a lot of silver.

I see silver that is hard and sharp like the edges of a broken bicycle spoke. Like division in the media, politicians with silver tongues. I see rejection letters and “We regret to inform you” in silver embossed ink.

I see silver that is soft and malleable. Like the rings on my fingers that are bent out of shape from holding hands too tightly and playing guitar too fiercely. Soft silver like promises to be better and commitments to read more love more try more be more.

I see silver linings. I see my friends telling rooms full of 17 year olds about hope and life and freedom. I see glimpse of fall weather on the radar that offer respite from the constant heat. Silver like lightening bolts in the sky, like good news that pierced an entire day.

In the life around me and the things that ground me: I see silver.

 Camille Graham

“The ‘It Girl’”

You see a girl eating dinner and laughing with her family and friends. What you don’t see is the fact that her parents are divorcing and she and her siblings are falling apart. What you don’t see is that she prayed so hard for everything to work out, but it never did. You don’t see that all she asked for on her birthday was one nice meal with her family and friends, because it could be the last one with everyone together.

You see a girl, an officer in her sorority, stand up and speak confidently at initiation. What you don’t see is that she had several panic attacks that week because on top of writing three papers, and working a job all day, she had to memorize a speech to deliver in front of a large crowd.

You see a girl on a date with her boyfriend, and it looks like they have the perfect relationship. What you don’t see is that he has cheated on her several times and she stays with him because doesn’t feel like she deserves better.

You see yourself in the mirror and pick at your flaws, wishing you could be like the “it girls” that you’ve seen throughout the day. What you don’t see is that you are so beautiful, so precious, and so loved in the eyes of the King of Kings.

You see the “It Girl.” What you don’t see is that she has struggles, just like you, and she wishes she could be someone else, too.

Emily Embry

I see the morning light rushing through the window, painting broad strokes on the wood paneled wall and washing the room in sweet honey; mercy.

I see the old, oak table delicately holding plates, bowls, cups that overflow. An abundance, an invitation to taste and see; grace.

I see kicking, screaming, tossing, and two strong arms holding, rocking, steadying until her eyelids gently close and blissful sleep greets him; patience.

I see deep lines stretching across your forehead, telling tales, and a wedding ring permanently stuck on calloused hands that fly up to the moon as laughter roars; wisdom.

I see perfectly polished shoes gliding across black and white tiles as if it were ice, turning and spinning in a flurry, ignorant of and unhindered by the constraints of time and space; joy.

I see another reckless night soaked into her matted hair, pale white skin in the glow of a monitor. His hands gripping the sides of that familiar, worn leather chair; love.

The light of dawn, an abundant feast, a mother’s touch, wrinkles of time, dancing shoes, a father’s perseverance; You.

Mercy, grace, patience, wisdom, joy, love: You.

I see You.

Becky Matthews

Learned Hopelessness

I have seen two emeralds in a sea of ink,

Resting on the gentle arc of a cumbersome nose,

And I remember seeing inevitable illuminance, cut into fractals,

Far beneath the verdancy each time a bolt of lightning

Would sing across the midnight;

Each flash, she appears!

Though the return of night canonizes her eyes.

I have seen God in the bottom of a whiskey bottle,

Beckoning wryly through a threshold of latticed white,

Like a father summoning a disobedient child to scold,

But His voice cannot reach me from the depths of the pit,

Try as I might to hear, with my ear to the lip,

A voice lost in cacophonic winds

A drop of mercy in a tumultuous sea.

I have seen a raptured soul with burning wings

Plummet like the son of the tinkerer,

Hold me under the powerlines in a downpour,

Archangels sodden, downtrodden, bereft,

Expunged from the weave and weft

Of necessity and proximity;

I have seen a separation.

I have seen a gossamer of pink and fire

Where lakes burn in early morning breezes,

And the flames creep across cotton candy clouds

To nestle in the bosom of Appalachia,

And I can see the breeze but only when

A kiss from the emeralds emblazons that

Blossoming breath from seas untamed.

What I have seen has burdened my eyebrows,

Knitted them in permanent glower,

Tinted existence as raining memories form wet blurs

Like upon the lens of spectacles;

I see not what lies behind the drops

But vague shapes, unclear and unappealing.

A fog composed of memory laces itself

With the clarity of morning,

And dispels in the murk of dusk; the fog is

A million motes of water reverberating the tangible,

Back and forth, to and fro, ever-shifting,

Oh, I drown in the water,

Oh let me drown.

And I cannot focus on one image alone

But a myriad of shapes and patterns,

Kaleidoscopic like a tempest at sunset,

So that all that I have seen

Will forever shape

What I will see.

Dylan Clark


I see him. I think more than he could know. I saw him even from the beginning. I saw the deep well in him that he hadn’t drawn from much before. The rope and the bucket still so shiny and new. Over the years, a few good men passed him a lantern…and I did too. Though the darkness scared him, he tossed a lantern into the well. Then the next and the next. Brighter and brighter it shown. He looked in and saw the brilliance and depth for himself. It shocked him and he doubted his eyes, but it was indeed his well. His beautiful well.

Now the rope is worn and the bucket is full. He is even pulling up some of those lanterns and giving them to some others who are scared to look inside their wells. He is not afraid anymore. He has given me a lantern, too. I’m starting to see.

I love this man who sees me.


Visionary, Vision is scary (Eminem) (unrelated)

I see leaves falling

I see tears resisting the same fate

I see the next thing and the next thing and the next

blinding me from much else


I see morning light dancing on my wall in the shape of tree branches

It’s dance fades so quick

24 hours in a day


I see relentless treading

warriors of the waves

Stop! Be Still! He says

just in time


I see the sunrise again

consistency, consistency


I see my damn computer screen

Another leaf falls

The tree almost naked

Evergreens are mighty and present


I see a dark house and an empty gas light blinks on


I see tremendous joy

On display from ear to ear


I see generosity given

Like there was nothing else to offer

I see the hands and feet of Jesus attached to people I love


I see soggy trees dripping

Shedding their excess weight


I see my eyelids

I can’t be done with the day


I see my eyelids


I see unread books on my shelf

blank pages in my journal

roommates sitting on the couch

I see ELC and Google Docs

Texts sent to compensate for quality time


I see gravity

And moments later it’s just air again


Is it wind I’m striving after

Oh I pray it is more

Don’t let me waste even the smallest gift



It’s the last day and I wake up early to hug him goodbye before he left for the airport. Of course I did, because I always do.

     I watch him, his back turned, as he walks out the door with his rolling suitcase and I retreat to my bed upstairs so I can try to squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep, but it doesn’t come.

     Minutes later, I end up in my parents’ bathroom, crying in my mom’s favorite chair because it’s not fair that he can just walk out like that and leave my heart throbbing in my chest, and now every time I see that old wooden chair or my great-grandmother’s jewelry box or my favorite striped pajama pants, I think of the morning that I realized it was over.

     We’d be perfect together, like one of those “It was love at first sight” movies, but he can’t see it. Not like I can.

     He undoes me, every inch of him, and he can’t see it.

     But I do—I always have.


     From the moment I met him when I was but single digits, I let my heart get ahead of me, like it always does, and I imagined everything. All of it. I saw a life ahead of me filled with joy and promise and laughter and proposals and marriage and kids.

     What girl wouldn’t, right? With a face like his and charm like his, it was next to impossible.

     And then there was me. And I look in the mirror and all I can see is how much I pale in comparison next to him.

     It took me .2 seconds to fall in love with him, but 5 years to get over him. To realize I’d never be good enough for him. To quit taking him like drugs, anxious for the high but broken for the fall. To stop myself from picking him up like sand and then getting heartbroken every time it fell through my fingers, like I should’ve been surprised. Sand does that. If nothing else, it’s consistent. It falls through the gaps and lands on the ground and you think to yourself, “Just a minute ago, it was there, in my hands, and now it’s not.”

     It’s been a few years. Three, to be exact. Now when I think of him, it feels different. I don’t see him dancing with me in his living room or playing me a song on the piano or telling me I’m the only girl he shares his secrets with while we’re making guacamole in his kitchen or him telling me jokes as I lay on the ground, crying from laughter.

     I see the girl who woke up thinking of him and fell asleep thinking of him, like some obsessive drug addict, and I know it’s wrong. I see the girl who used to let unrequited love define her. I see the girl who spent years trying to be everything for him and could never be it all so she broke down and became herself.

     There’s peace in feeling like you’re finally who God created you to be apart from someone else. There’s peace in knowing that you’ve made it.


     The boy was sweet but God is sweeter. God is better. God took him from me. I see that now, and I couldn’t before. Not when I had him.

     It took losing him for me to finally see.     

Eva Parker

What I am coming to realize is being able to help others is a privilege in itself. You can only help others (financially or emotionally or anywhere in between) if you have those resources yourself already. But we shouldn’t expect to be able to do it all the time. We are not Jesus. We have our own problems and should not expect ourselves to be able to consistently pour our goodness. To make a difference in the world we should give our best self and not just what’s left of our self. Lift both hands when things are bright but don’t feel guilty that things aren’t bright all the time and sometimes you have to keep your head down to get back to that place. I think you and I forget just how young we are and that this thing we are trying to accomplish is going to take a lot of practice, we are already way ahead of others and should be thankful for that. It’s ok to be young and have fun we don’t have to feel guilty about that. It’s ok to take the time to listen and ask questions and learn in the meantime. Besides there are no real systematic answers to the problems you and I face because people are people and they don’t fit into a system. So relax and just try to get to know the people around you, be nice, and help them have fun too. If we need to have fun they sure do. It’s natural to be self serving because it takes effort to serve others, especially strangers. And it is natural, unfortunately, for us to “other” one another. It takes effort to want to get to know strangers and broaden our sense of reality. I suspect these are some sort of survival skills. It takes quite a bit of wisdom for someone to volunteer truly to serve others and not just to feel better about ourselves. Compassion turned into action is something unnatural for humans, this is why Jesus is so unbelievably amazing. And he knows this and that’s why he encourages us to give by telling us we will get more in return. He knows our hearts are crooked but he wants us to try anyway. You are not Jesus, I am not Jesus. Do what you can, let god fill in the rest and don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself with the means you have. And really maybe don’t even try at all and just let god do everything, you know it will be better that way anyway. So just relax, sit back, and watch him work. Let go of wanting to control and fix the problems of the world and just appreciate the privilege of getting to know God’s greatest creation: each other.

I guess that’s what I see. It’s what I want to see anyway. Speaking it into existence.

Bridget Siverwright


I have always wondered why phone cameras do that. Something to do with an aperture I guess. Do we really have to choose between light here or there? Aren’t we missing out? Maybe those feet have details that add to her story. Maybe those are old running shoes, waiting to silently jog Athens before those leaves fall and make each step and moment more intrusive. Maybe those are socks, recently exposed and raised in exhaustion as their possessor watches the sun punch through those trees after a day full of texts and calls and thoughts that don’t leave her alone. Maybe those are two shoes on two bodies, and that color was witnessed by a third besides her and the sun, multiplying its warmth and speeding its retreat to the drumming of heartbeats.

  And the record player? We can’t even see if it’s on. What if the room was suffocated by the crackles of an album she bought a few months ago downtown, its imperfect turnings perfectly celebrating the last radiating air of summer? Or what if it’s held shut, a few books stacked on top because its busy the time of year when the light looks like that and no one actually listens to records when life comes and comes. They just stare at them mostly.

  So what do I see? I want to say that all I can see is the way the setting sun came straight down Springdale Street in September and made each one of those leaves out there a prism by the time it reached 60. That the only thing I see is her, them and the dog and each blade of the too-long grass; how it bent underneath their joy and the fading heat. That when I look at that picture all I see are the six-hundred-something evenings I listened to from the stoop, reflecting in the extent of their silence. But I can’t. I didn’t even know what I wasn’t choosing to see.

  But there were moments. Moments where Light met my eyes and I saw. I saw what was near and far meet somewhere immensely close to eternity. Someone holding a dirty hand. Words  sketched onto college-ruled paper. Songs sung into the darkness. Smoke rising towards a sky illuminated by laughter. Tears shed in an old house. Inconsequential moments made invaluable by the maker of value. All I can do is ask to see more.

Erik Olsen

Blurry. Unfamiliar. Confused.

I see a driver. I seek, but I do not know.

I see a roommate. I share, but I am not known.


Struggling. Pain. Trial.

I do not see an enemy, but I do not see a friend.

I do not see him yet, but I know we are trying.


Studying. Diagnosis. Reunion.

I see fear, and I see strength.

I see loss, and I see so much found.


Growth. Friendship. Abroad.

I see strangers who will become important.

Though their worth was never temporal.


Subzero. Snow. Rock.

I see a closeness. An intimacy.

I see mountains,

& they are groaning much louder than the rest.


Words expressed, when actions could not, and my heart grins.


Resilience. Conviction. Dreams.

I see a heart,

full of burden.

Surely not of his own, this he would admit.


Over our shoulders, we do not recall.

a story foretold. for His glory, and our good. and our good.


Joy. Kindness. Selflessness.

I see my own. My person.

what was intended, & what now is.


This gift.

I now know.

& I am now known.


I see mountains,

& they are groaning much louder than the rest.

& they are groaning much louder than the rest.

Luke Gamblin

“Hallelujahs are all around”

The words I see every day as I walk into my room, hanging above my bed. Four months ago I wrote those words in the hope that seeing them would keep that thought always at the forefront of my mind. That each day I would remember to see all the gifts that have been placed in front of me. But it seems more and more as the semester goes on that I focus on the following line of the song- “but the roof is caving in”.

I’ve chosen to see the brokenness, the mess, all the times the roof has caved in, rather than see the hallelujahs that I am surrounded by every day. I’ve chosen to ignore the gifts that each day brings.

I see the world through clouded, distorted eyes of bitterness.

But I want to see that all is not lost.

I want to see the light in the cracks. I want to see the love that is all around me. I want to see abundance where I see bleakness.

I want to see the hand of the Lord in everything- that His hallelujahs are abounding and all around. Even when, and especially when, I feel the roof is caving in.

Jen Kunin

A series:

  1. “What do I see?” October 28

powerful women, scared women

acts of justice, crimes of hate

hurting bodies, raw souls

coloring leaves, widening futures

lack of awareness, need for story

texts from dad, love note from God

sunlight peering in, light claiming my day

trees changing shape, “Katie, pay attention”

what you see is constantly changing

calling attention, teaching lesson

showing a way, creating a path

look up, look up, look up



to move, to create, to speak, to write.

we must see.

see first. walk second.

pause, observe.

see through another lens.

another perspective.

look closer, see again.

magnify another’s view over our own.

see through them, both.

and as we move, look again.

and as we write, look deeper.

and as we speak, look further.

push sight to new places.

new scenes, see the unseen



my mom first taught me how to see. She told me stories, the day-in day-out of a social worker. A woman who sees the unseen in her job, and sees past where work says stop, sees further to the depths of the person on the other side of the desk. I see because of her.

Now my friends. They show me how. They see for me. When I have no strength, when I forget how, when I think seeing is only for certain people. They call me and ask what I’ve seen. And I remember to see again, to invite others to see, too. Even just for the seeing itself. Oh, to see.


Iiii.  What do I see Nov 17

“I would grab her face like this,

and I would look at her face.

It was like she was looking at me,

But not really seeing.

I said, ‘Mama, what do you see?’

She said, ‘I’m looking at your hair.”

“Julie, she said that the other day.

She said she was looking at your hair.”

Looking, but not seeing.

Mawmaw looked at Mama’s hair

But was seeing something else

Seeing Jesus’ face

Looked at Mama’s face

But was seeing something else

Seeing Mimama’s heaven smile

Looking and seeing,

There must be a difference.

When I look at people,

Do I look past them? See their

Mistakes instead? See their

Past instead? See their

False self instead? See their

Categories and types instead?

Do I see, them?

Do I look past, the clutter?

To see them?

For me, to see.

For them, to be seen.



 I see good.

I must name it or I forget.

List it long, write it down.

I see the good but get distracted,

Stirred up by all the other,

Forget to just be in the good.

That’s okay too,

Little ole me

That’s okay too.

 Katie Lynch

In about all things I see the silver lining.

I call it gold.

I see it.

I see the gold, but often it is gilded.

The deeper you look, the duller it shines.

Oh I see it.

I see your side and hers.

I see your words pick at her and start to break her. Why do you break her down? Isn’t she yours, yours to build up.

Yet your words are building,

building a wall of resentment.

I see her behind the wall.

And I see her do it too. Her words pick at your sores and break you down too.


But I see past the words.

I see the hurt. I see the tiredness. The tired eyes upon that wall you’ve help build. I see you paralyzed before the wounds. Unable to fix.

Weak, yet strong in mouth.

Hear me, I see your hurt.

I see it hurts me too.

I see your side and theirs.

I see your humility so strong.

I see it mistaken for weakness and matched with a handout.

I see your love for your child, so selfless and active.

I see it mistaken for neglect.

I see your daily ambition, your resilience.

I see people only see lazy.

I see your years, your lifetime of fight.

I see people only glimpse one scene and make up their mind of who you are.


I lean in and I see more and more.

Thank you for letting me in.

The more you let me see, the more I realize is unseen and mis-seen.

Hear me, I see your hurt.

I see it hurts me too.

I finally breath and I step back.

So I say I see your humility so strong, yet where is mine?

I’m not the only one with eyes.

Others see it too.

And before I even saw,

I was the one not seeing, mis-seeing, mistreating.

I was the one using my words to break.

Who saw that?

Even now, I don’t see it all with my eyes. And with my mouth I can pierce and not praise.

Who sees this?

I finally breath again and

I see grace.

Thank God.

I see grace for me.

for your side and theirs.

for your side and hers.

I see grace.

I see Jesus.

Gilded, no.

Just the opposite.


“Let us fix our eyes on things above.”

Rachel Deese

My Other Eyes

I wake up. My eyes open but my vision isn’t quite clear yet. I’m on my way. Ah, there it is. I can see. Not my favorite sight, but I see it — rage. Horn honking and swearing but my sight is fixed on the slight tinge of exhaustion in his eyes. Could it be his family or work or…

Now I see her. She tells me stories of her dad and her watch and how she’s tough, but I see it. The desperation to be held and taken care of. I wish I could but…

Oh this room. So much to see. Sometimes I wish I didn’t see so much. The joy, the hidden tear, the melancholy, the longing, the…

“Hey Darlin’! How are you today?,” Jay asks as he puts our mail in slot 270. Oh no, I’m blind. “Good!”. I’ll look into it later.

But I know a few who share this sight. And they see me and they know…

I’m no longer blind.  

Kelly Saunders

whatever i see –

i see stars when i get tired

and i see deadlines to the wire

i see terrifying haircuts

and my car that just expired


i see family with choice to be here

and i see a table i should have set

i see my share of conversations

before we’d even toasted yet


whatever i see i know belongs to heaven

whenever i dream its all i’ll ever know

whatever i see is overcome by darkness when my eyes close


whatever i see is all i know to ask for

whatever i sing is all my voice can hold

whatever i see i’ll take into my day until tomorrow


i see drums with busted faces

but i hear the crack that snare rang out

i hear songs i’ve never played for you cause your what that songs about


i see Christmas lights too early

and the way we give too late

i see the reason we show love to each other with iPhones and discount rates


whatever i see i know belongs to heaven

whenever i dream its all i’ll ever know

whatever i see is overcome by darkness when my eyes close


whatever i see is all i know to ask for

whatever i sing is all my voice can hold

whatever i see i’ll take into my day until tomorrow

whatever i see i’ll take into my day until tomorrow

alex mowry


see the sadness in the world

One man has been accused of sexual misconduct by

three brave women

But was nominated by a man that’s been accused of sexual misconduct

by twenty women

He now sits on the highest court of the United States because he persuaded

eleven men that he should


One man has killed

eleven innocent people

But all of his weapons were purchased legally

four guns

He was the gunman that brought the total number of mass shootings this year to




I see hope in the people

One mom will march with her students

One friend will challenge the world with her questions

One classmate will give a moving speech

One professor will stand up for their student

One roommate will invest in children with her whole heart

One book will slap people into a reality

One athlete will kneel for something that is bigger than their career

One women will stand and speak for all the women that haven’t

One politician will confront our democracy

One country will hopefully see that hate has no home here

Lindsay Magill 


What Do I See?

I see things I love, and I see and dwell on things I shouldn’t. I see things right in front of me and I see things I hope will happen any number of years down the road. I see things in myself and I see things in others. I see my proudest moments, and I see my most uncomfortable failures.

I see a lot.

It’s overwhelming to even begin writing about what I see. With so many ideas, places I could start, and directions I could go, I decided that all I want to do is talk about a few things I see more consistently than anything else. Some of them are great things about other people, some are dreams I have, some are simple everyday observances, some are frustrations, some are things that bring me joy, and I realize the increasing importance of all of them the more I see.

So here it goes:


I see myself going on long runs (without a leash, of course) and to the park with the dog I’m going to own one day. Golden Retriever – get him when he’s young and raise him until he tries to jump into my lap because he still thinks he’s a puppy, but he’s old now and way too big for that.

I see myself hanging out with my little brothers, because we’ve had some awesome phone calls recently and because being their best friend is way more important to me than making sure that going to dinner with them and sitting down for a meaningful conversation isn’t awkward.

I see my friends getting older and making important decisions. That’s really awesome. I see their uncertainty turn into faith and then into something they never thought was possible but needed desperately.

I see my brokenness when I realize that my most natural desire is for everything to be about me. I recognize it, I work on it, and I feel it again. I see that I need a lot of forgiveness.

I see seven books I love. I’m going to read them again.

I see a room full of guys with whom I’ve spent the last four years. I know some of them a lot better than I know others, and I’m going to miss all of them.

I see the busiest semester of them all coming to a close. I see my availability, and it excites me.

I see a long three fall through the bottom of the net while I’m playing hoops at home, and I see Ben’s hand reaching toward my own.

I see the picture that Will posted in our kitchen the day we moved in. I thought a couple of Italian chefs in big white hats would encourage me to cook more, and boy was I wrong.

I see about a foot between my fingers and my toes. I need to stretch more.

I see that little sliver of light before I open the door and stumble into the living room – eyes half open, trying to figure out what mom’s watching before I walk into the kitchen and fire up the Keurig.

I see pictures of some of my favorite people in the world during some of my favorite memories in the world on my desk. I see myself remembering those moments forever.

I see that the people I love the most are those I’ve seen at the worst. I’m seeing that I want that more, because knowing that someone cares for me despite my shortcomings is just better than anything else.

William Black

I see my life

in the distance.

I’m trying to catch up.


I’m running. running. running.

breathe, Maddie. you’re almost there.


watch out!!!


i fell.

I see the hole in the ground. it’s too late.

I’m bleeding.

quick, don’t let anyone notice.

I see my failure.


I’m running again.

now it’s raining, pouring actually.

I see puddles, my feet are slipping as I keep my balance.

I feel heavy.


everything is blurry.

fog. dark clouds. more fog.

my eyes sting.

I can’t see.

I close them.

I fall again.

I see my inadequacy.


I fall asleep.


It’s the morning.

The sun begins to shine.

I see it’s warmth. I see hope. I’m not alone.

I look up.

I see my roommates next to me, tears in their eyes as they see my own.

I see jesus as I look at them. steadfast, gracious, loving, patient, kind…..

I see that it’s okay to be broken.


“your presence is enough.

you are beautiful.

you are bold and courageous.

let Him sharpen you.”


don’t you see? jesus is right here.

and these people are here too.


I spot the sun again. it’s peaking through the trees. as it reflects off the dark corners of my room, I am reminded to see the light in the brokenness.

There is life there too.

and joy. deep joy.


I hear music.

I see feet.

happy feet. wild and free feet.

dancing feet.

feet of my best friends. friends that so fully know their creator.

nothing scares them anymore.

they are loved. they know that they are loved. I am loved too.

I see that love- and freedom- and laughter, in this dance.


I join them.

Let me stay here.

You can.


I see my life.

It’s been right in front of me all along.

I stand still. I see the light. I feel light.


breathe Maddie.

Maddie Howell

It all started with a Gwnedolyn Brook’s poem “To an Old Black Woman, Homeless and Indistinct”.  

“She sees you not, she sees you very well”

I was taken back by this idea of how we choose what we see and what we don’t see. I was taken back by this raw poem that was written from the perspective of this woman that lived on a street corner where every day people saw her, but nobody really saw her. This poem broke me. And it helped me see how this is constantly happening.

I saw it.

I saw how the root issue to so many of the tensions, misunderstandings, and divisions amongst people came from us not fully seeing one another.

It sounds so simple. And in many ways it is. We need to help people see people. The truth is simple, but the work of bringing others, in to sight is not so simple. And the work of bringing our own self in to sight can often feel even more difficult. Because it takes humility. True sight brings us back to our humanness.

We are stubborn. We each wear our own tainted lenses that keep us from seeing from other’s perspectives. We each have our own blind spots. We each have work to do in order to see one another from their vantage point, not our own. That’s why poetry is so impactful— you read it not from our own perspective but from the narrators. I want to live life similarly to the act of reading poetry.


For a while now I’ve been sitting in a quiet anger. I’ve been so frustrated with how we don’t know what it really means to love our neighbors because we don’t know what it means to see our neighbors. I had no idea how angry I was until I tried writing out my first few drafts on this topic. The words that first spilled out of me were soaked in bitterness. They were ugly because they were words that focused more on pointing fingers. It was so much easier to see how others were not seeing and loving. However, I was heavily missing the plank in my own eye. I was also missing that anger won’t fix anything. No one wants to read words of judgment. And when I began writing, I realized how much I needed to step out of my mind. So, I stepped away for a little bit and I asked others to write. I asked others to think about the question— “what do you see?” and I was taken back by the gift of reading, listening, and seeing words from other people’s perspectives.

We forget who our neighbors are. We forget that our neighbor is not just the one we choose to be with. We forget that not only is our neighbor the one in red and black besides us as we make our way to Sanford Stadium on a Saturday, but our neighbor is also the one to our right that is selling water bottles and tickets. We forget that our neighbor is not only our good friend, but also the mail lady who shows up to our house day after day. I forget. I forget that each and every person I pass by and that I meet has a story and a life that deserves to be seen and heard. I forget that one of the few universal commonalities amongst all people is that we all have a neighbor. If you think about it… we are all one another’s neighbors.

My Young Life leader in high school taught me something I haven’t been able to forget that pertains to the word “see”. She told us that in life there will always be people in your rear view mirror. She said that there will be people behind us constantly that we just forget to look back to see. They are there— present and behind us— our eyes just have to look back to see them. My leader then challenged us, as juniors in high school, to find out who those people were that were in our rear view mirror. Then, she told us that once we found those people the next step was to love them— to really love them. To talk with them. To learn their name if we didn’t know their name. To learn about who they were and how they were. She challenged us to see what we so quickly forget to see. She shared how sometimes we get too busy to see. We get too busy or too caught up in ourselves. When we only focus inward we forget what exists outside of ourselves. Learning this affected me then, and it continues to affect me now.

The first step is always the hardest. We have to ask ourselves— what am I not seeing that is right in front of me or right behind me? And then we have to do the messy work of being honest with ourselves with that question.

The next step is a little easier if we allow ourselves to sit in a posture of humility. We choose to see. We choose to love. And how we do so may look different from one person to another. But, my bet is that if we all do this work of fighting to see one another more, love will begin to exist where division lives. And if we allow it to, love will win every time.

Let’s be people that help one another see people. Let’s be people that say hello to one another. Let’s learn one another’s names. Let’s be real neighbors again.

Bailey Frederking

I peak through the window to my heart.

It’s kinda dark in th— no, I look closer and it’s brighter than ever! Oh my, the flower blooms and flowing rivers and tall mountains and open fields, I do see it!

Out here it seems so dark in there. Oh my, but it’s not! Something is in there. Someone is in there. Someone bright and good and full. I see Him. Why didn’t I look in there first?

Through Him, I see myself truly. I don’t see who all the worlds made me out to be. I don’t see the medals hanging on my neck or failures written on my forehead or the rejection I’ve faced or the acceptance I’ve claimed as my value. I see Him in me. I see redemption in my history, truth in my present moment and beauty in what is to come.

I peak through the window of my heart, and there see the richest treasure. No treasure out here will suffice.

I see light in there. In his light, do we see light.

Oh yes, I see light in my heart’s little window!

Gracyn Lastinger

Hand motion versus count fingers, Can you read this line of letters for me?

Attached versus detached, Can you see the black dot?

Resolved versus recurrent, Does it help if I point?

Light perception versus NLP, Do you see any floaters?

Recommend observation versus re-treat today, Flashes of light?

Vitreous clear versus hazy view, Is this a recent change?

Reassured as stable versus guarded prognosis, Are you in any pain?

How are you feeling? Do you have any questions?

Patient to call the office and return without delay should they notice any visual changes or concerns prior to their next appointment.

Anna Schramski

“What do you see?”

Last month I saw mountains and valleys, sunrises and sunsets. I was seeing desperation in eyes for something more. Something bigger than their hunger and more plentiful than their gardens.

Last week I saw oceans. I saw the vastness of creation and beauty. I felt the deep-ness of His love and was drowning in blessing.

Today I see the busy life of New York. I see people who “have it all” but nothing at the same time. I see people who can’t see themselves. I see people crossing streets, sitting at tables, riding the subway all consumed with scrolling looking at a life they don’t have and missing the one right in front of them.

I see a possibility of a future I don’t want.

I see a picture of myself slipping onto a busy path, getting lost and searching for signs pointing in the right directions.

BUT I see Jesus.

I see Him at every corner holding HIS sign saying, “follow me.”

I feel my nerves turning into excitement. I feel my excitement turning into confidence. I feel my confidence turning into His gospel for His glory.

Today, Im starting to see my new normal with the same Jesus in the same country I proudly call my home.

I’m home!!!

Katie Bouchie


The cashier at the Cookout drive through is confused,

make sure to

check your car.

You don’t like country music,

ask yourself

who does.

You can’t afford the pink Puma sneakers,

make sure to

double check the $159 price tag.

Her momma hits her,

consider that

she’s not the only one.

Stop at the gas station,

take them all in

with you.

She calls,

just listen.

In college,

don’t forget

who told you to be there.

Beg her to call the police,


she’s got a family.

He never hurt her,

know that

she’s the anchor baby.

Alex Washburn

I stopped to notice what I see

It wasn’t all what I wish it to be

But it is what it is so just tell me what do you see?


I see all those around me in pain

Oh wait or is it me reflecting it

No no they are they told me so they must be

But they are good people why do they see pain?


I see heaviness, it was no longer just when climbing the stairs

It was in every step of the day

What is it that I’m seeing that is making it so hard to bear?


I see everything and it’s opposite

The goodness of laughter and the blessing of tears

Feelings that don’t make any logic and the logic that don’t change the feelings

Even the she said he said arguments, who to say that what they see is wrong? They are both right and equally wrong

Patience and Prays.

I see how this works, you see with “patience and prayers” you see all you need to see.

You see it pass

You see the blessing of taking steps

You see the good and the bad shaping you

You see them prayers heard

Most of all you see that God has you, and what else would you want if you have everything

Menna Nasser


I see a little girl with a big bow in her hair

A little girl with big blue eyes just like her grandma

A little girl who sees hurt and hate and isolation, and doesn’t understand it

But yet she sees it

A little girl who wants to see more


I see this little girl, she’s growing up now

Swinging on the playground

Trying to understand what it looks like to see others

A little girl who wants to see more


This little girl is not so little anymore

She is growing. She is seeing more.

And this is good

But also bad

She sees those around her and smiles

Those around her see her and turn away

Why does no one want to stay?

Is she the only one who wants to see more? she wonders as her smile disappears


This little girl sees beauty and confidence all around her

Why can’t she see it in herself?

This little girl sees the way families love each other

Why doesn’t she see it in her own?

The little girl just wants to see more


This little girl continues to grow

Her big blue eyes have seen a lot

Grandma told her they would

But is she actually seeing?


This girl is looking and searching

Seeing but not seeing

Her eyes are glazing over

Does anyone else see this?

Anyone? Anyone?


She decides to close her eyes.

She doesn’t want to see anymore.

She has been searching to see more and has only found less.

She refuses to open her eyes. She refuses.


But the darkness is tearing her apart.

Why is she doing this to herself?

Where is the little girl who wants to see more?

She must be in there somewhere


With one last ounce of hope, she peaks open her eyes to see if there is anything left to see

What does she see?


She sees eyes looking back at her

Eyes that see and love rather than eyes that turn away

Eyes that shine and sparkle with something different

Where is that in her own eyes? the little girl wonders

She is scared. She just wants to shut her eyes again.

But something holds them open

What is it?

It’s the sparkle. She can’t look away from those eyes in front of her

The eyes that see her

The eyes overflowing with love

And those eyes had so much to say

And those eyes showed her


Suddenly, she began to see it

She began to see all of the other eyes

The other eyes that were full of this sparkle and shine

The eyes that see her

And want to show her more

The eyes had been right in front of her the entire time

But finally she noticed

And those eyes taught her how to see

It was as if her eyes were widening with every step of growth

The growing girl just wants to see more


I see a little girl with brand new sight

A little girl who thought she had seen everything the world had to offer — hurt and pain and isolation and shame

But now a little girl who’s eyes had only just been opened

Opened to love and wonder

Rather than hurt and hate

A little girl who finally is seeing more


I see a little girl who’s eyes are no longer scared

A little girl who has seen

And found

And trusted

And known

The little girl is seeing


Where is this little girl now?

This little girl is in the midst of a beautiful journey

She always has been, but finally she sees and understands the beauty of this journey


I see the little girl standing in a field — a field that used to be dark and grey and withered — now full of flowers of every color

She sees a Hand – a very strong Hand – reach down and pick out the flowers that are her most favorite and give them to her

The Hand knows

Because the Hand has always seen

Even when the little girl couldn’t

And so, she dances

Hand in hand with the One who has always seen her


And so the little girl looks forward — but can’t quite see what’s next

And that’s okay

Because it’s not about knowing what she will see next

It’s about what she’s seen

It’s about what she’s seeing now

It’s about trusting that she will continue to see as she takes steps forward, clinging to the grasp of that oh so strong Hand


So she takes steps onto what appears to be thin air

And she sees solid ground beneath

This is what she sees

And this is what she knows she will always see

Even when she couldn’t

And even when she thinks she cant

She knows that she can see because she has been seen


She’s just a little girl who is hungry to see more

Hailey Hawkins


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