Gazing out the window

Girl Looking Out the Window
By Jeannie (madlyinlovewithlife) on Flickr

I have this thing…I need my desk, or wherever I work, to be near a window out of which I can easily see.

As I work (read, study, write), I spend a good deal of time gazing out the window.

Right now I am looking out of our front window, and there is nothing particularly beautiful about it, it simply faces the street. I see houses, a tree on which I am daily watching and waiting for buds, the street with cars, and people walking. Nothing particularly special, but it is life.

I have previously felt somewhat ashamed of this, that I spend a good deal of time gazing out the window. I look lazy, distracted. At times I feel lazy. People are not supposed to look out the window and be idle. After all, the way to work is to cram everyone into a sea of cubicles where the light of day can never touch. The best way to work is to block out the outside world and focus on one thing and one thing only: the task at hand.

So I do what I am supposed to do. I go to my office at church and sit at my desk. Because of the way the room is set up, including the fixed furniture, I cannot see out a window. In fact, the windows are colored translucent panes, so one cannot see through the glass anyway. And I work — or try to work. I am there to take phone calls if they come, I am there in case someone needs to see me. I return emails. I try to read. I try to write. I try to help open the biblical texts for my people in ways that speak to their lives in a meaningful way.

But it is those days when I write at home, or even write at my favorite coffee shop — and have access to a window out of which to see — that I am actually able to get words committed to paper, or more accurately, pixels turning from white to black in the form of letters, much more easily. Words flow better. My efficiency increases. Blocks that are otherwise there are gone. It is something about being able to stare out a window that makes me work better.

So I sit here and gaze out the window, and Jesus’ words come to mind, “Consider the lilies ..” (Lk 12:27), “Look at the birds of the air…” (Mt 6:26).

Jesus could have said, “take, for instance, the lilies.” Or, he could have said, “One example, is lilies.” But Jesus said consider. While translation is interpretation, but the original Greek word does carry connotations of contemplation, of looking reflectively upon, of thinking carefully about. Jesus doesn’t simply give an illustration, Jesus tells us to consider, to think on, to contemplate — to gaze.


Although this conflicts, somewhat, with the work ethic of my small-town Midwestern upbringing, I think that there is something holy and something beneficial to a degree of idleness. Of slowing down, of noticing, of gazing out the window, and of considering.

There is something about seeing the world which enables me to work, even if it is just window-gazing. Perhaps it is something that is better embraced than shied away from. Perhaps it is something which is better acknowledged than be embarrassed about. If Jesus can help his disciples learn something by telling them to contemplate on the lilies, perhaps I can learn something by looking at the world on the other side of the pane.

So, if you see me someday, and I’m looking out a window at a pub, coffee shop, or my flat, I’m not daydreaming, I’m not lazy, I’m just working — which often begins with a healthy dose of window gazing.

4 responses to “Gazing out the window”

  1. James Schippers Avatar
    James Schippers

    Good morning Mathew,
    I just finished reading your thoughts of today, gazing out the window. At first I wondered where your thoughts were heading, but as usual I was blessed to read and think on them.
    I work with your mom at Lighthouse. She is quite the lady, does an awesome job for us and has an outstanding happy positive attitude every day. She is a good example for others in our office. Have a great day today !

    1. James,
      Thanks for reading and for commenting — I appreciate your kind and encouraging words.

      I am a bit bias, but yes, my mother is a wonderful lady. Thanks again, and I hope to see you around here again!

  2. I remember reading that Emily Dickinson said “Consider the lilies” was the only commandment she never broke!

    I’m attaching a link that contains a cartoon about this passage because I found it funny: (I don’t know the blogger, I just happened to discover this when I was looking for some pictures of spring!)

    I agree with looking out. Creativity needs idle gazing and pondering and considering. My desk faces the window too & it’s just a street and trees but I love it. Today we have freezing rain so my daughter’s bus didn’t run; she’s sitting next to me and we’re working on our laptops, facing the window. Who knows what will be created today. 🙂

    1. Jeannie, regarding the Emily Dickinson statement, I love it! and the cartoon is hilarious.

      As you gaze out the window today with your daughter, I hope that God will show you something magnificent.

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