1975
With Open Eyes
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“With Open Eyes,” Ensign, July 1975, 69

With Open Eyes

Editor’s note: Sister Pere is gifted with a seeing eye, an understanding heart, and an artist’s pen.

She is a native New Zealander, and is currently living there with her husband, M. Baden P. Pere, president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

Questioning

If I question, Lord,

wilt thou know

that I am merely reaching

here below?

If I ask of thee

patience, please,

wilt thou yet indulge me, Lord,

in my need?

I know one from long ago

who loved thee

yet he is remembered most

doubting thee.

When I am in doubt, Lord,

wilt thou know

it is my love that questions

here below?

For inside me, Lord,

canst thou see

that my love is strong and true

unto thee?

Waiting Room

We sit,

six of us,

and the woman with the child

knits the minutes

into squares that she’ll stitch

into her quilt of time.

We wait,

and the silence

fades slowly around us,

shadowed softly

in the cooing

of the baby at her side.

We are strangers every one,

lost among the outdated magazines

between these sterile walls.

Our curious but mute stares

at each newcomer

reveal an illness

deeper and more profound

than any disease of skin or bone.

I think,

what if we were the last six humans

marooned in this room,

perhaps whirling through space

beyond earth and moon.

What then?

Would one of us break

the ice between us?

Would, perhaps, the toothless man

beside me

reach a gaunt finger forth

to offer some touch

of tenderness

to the child waving

tiny fists in the air?

Or could I look the superior woman

who faces me

directly in the eye

to say with compassion:

have peace,

for I love

and care about you?

Teaching

Teaching is not telling,

for I’ve been told so many times

by those who’ve never taught.

And I have heard their telling

and refused to learn.

Telling, when you are not so yourself,

and have no plans to ever be,

is hypocrisy

—empty words that are no less

than an offense to me.

Teaching, on the other hand,

is being yourself so completely

that I see how you are

and want to join you.

Teaching is you understanding me

and liking what I am

—not what I can become

by your manipulations,

but what I am,

now,

and eternally.

Boy in a Sleeping Bag

First he lays it flat along the ground,

making sure there are no rocks beneath.

Then, legs together, sliding carefully,

he inches between its quilted folds,

aware that any jut of knee

or elbow will disturb

the perfect symmetry

that is his private bed.

Once in,

he reaches sleepy fingers

to tug the awkward zip

up to his chin.

One last glance beneath the chairs

assures him that there are no bears;

then, snug and warm in his bright cocoon,

my son camps out in the living room.