On seeing what you want to see

by Richard on May 16, 2012

Some while ago I had a bizarre experience on a school trip. We visited the village of Port Eynon on Gower, I was there as an extra pair of adult hands, helping out the teachers. The weather wasn’t fit to start the day on the beach, so we spent the morning doing a geography project, walking round the village looking for various things. Nothing complicated, you understand. We are talking about 7 year olds here. The class was divided into teams of 4 children, each with a responsible adult in charge. All except for 1 group. I looked after that one. :)

My team were about the last to arrive at the village church, but the groups we met coming away from there were full of excitement: “There’s a broken grave! You can see a skull!” To say I was sceptical is a modest understatement, but my four girls were having none of it. Their friends had seen it. It must be true. They said so.

Sure enough, in the churchyard we found the right spot, having had it pointed out to us by about 400 ghoulishly excited 7 year old guides. “I’ve seen it! It’s over there!!” It was a 19th century grave covered by an inscribed stone slab slightly raised above the ground and, yes, the stone slab was broken in two places exposing the ground beneath. We peered in through the gap. Triumphantly, my 4 team-members declared they had seen it too. They saw the skull.

Try as I might, I couldn’t see anything remotely resembling human remains. Time, I thought, to put them right. We talked about how deep graves are dug, how much earth is put on a coffin. How, I asked, was a skull going to appear from the depths? Then I held forth at some length on the subject of looking with our own eyes and seeing for ourselves, not merely taking others’ word for it. Just because someone else says a thing is so, I expatiated, doesn’t make it so. Look with open eyes and open minds. A powerful lesson, I thought. Now it was me feeling triumphant.

But guess what?

It made no difference. They all went home full of it. They had seen a skull. It was there.

It isn’t just children who do that, is it?

More reblogging. So sue me.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


Phillip Mutchell 05.16.12 at 8:16 pm

Oh droll Richard, but the kingdom of heaven is full of those who are like little children. Dare I suggest that it might be you who seeing could not see?


Richard 05.16.12 at 10:29 pm

Suggest what you like, Phillip. But that’s a true story from 5 years ago.


Phillip Mutchell 05.17.12 at 8:39 am

I wasn’t implying that the story wasn’t true Richard but that because you couldn’t see what the children saw, they were wrong, and evidently your implication is others see what they want to see, and are also wrong, but Christ employed Isaiah for the very purpose of rebuking those of Israel after the flesh who lacked that spiritual sight whereby they could see Him, precisely because their expectations of the Messiah forbid them seeing differently, similarly now a gospel that is intent on a total inclusion reflecting the political concerns of those excreted from our educational institutions is incapable of seeing the truth of God’s election and damnation, but no matter those who read their bible know that, for that sect which is of Christ ‘it is everywhere spoken against.’ ‘Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?’


Richard 05.17.12 at 10:22 am

On this occasion, I didn’t see what the children saw because they didn’t see what they thought they saw! You will wander round Britain’s churchyards for a long time before you find any human remains lying on the surface (barring foul play, of course). You’ve missed the point of the story. It was not that “others see what they want to see” be that we are all capable of seeing what we want to see.

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