I wonder if it's possible to worship with eyes wide open.
I say that because a few weeks ago, I noticed one member in particular of our worship team (and he may not be the only one) with eyes closed, worshiping with that really intense look on his face where you couldn't tell whether he thought he was a rock god or he was trying to rock out for God. You probably know the type. (I won't say who; it might make him self-conscious. But it wasn't you.)
The truth is, though, that as soon as a song takes hold of my heart, I notice myself instinctively closing my eyes. This is true of a song, a word, a moment. When something of God wraps itself around me - or wraps me around Him - it seems I shut my eyes by pure reflex and just stay there and soak it in. Which is really cool at church because I stand directly under this one light while we are singing, and if I'm standing there with eyes closed, but still looking toward heaven, this light washes over my new darkness, my closed eyes, and I can tangibly feel it and it's that whole cool holy moment thing.
That's beside the point.
It's hard to tell whether this is a good reflex or a bad one, an enhancement to the worship experience or a compartmentalization of it. Obviously, it's easier to worship and to focus on God when it's just you and Him. When you've shut everything else out and all you've got is that moment and the holy He's bringing to it. It's easier for me to worship uninhibited if I can't see you either looking or not looking at me, worshiping or not worshiping, checking your iPhone or bouncing your baby or whatever else you may be doing in the course of an average church service. It's easier to shut all that out, close my eyes, and share that moment with God.
At the same time, this is also part of the problem. We have this idea that God is wholly separate from our mortal life. He is "other than" all of this mess we call a world. He is outside of the day to day, that eternity is beyond our revolution of the sun. Yet God tells us that's not who He is. That He's not separate from here; He created here. There are a lot of things of God we might miss out on if we keep our eyes closed for the sake of Him.
Which makes me wonder, when I'm worshiping with my eyes closed, am I in communion with the God of the Universe, the Creator, my Father whom I love...or am I simply in communion with the idea of Him?
It's a fine line. Of that much, I am certain. On the one hand, I love the idea of connecting with God in the perfect way in which we were intended to relate, He and I. With no distractions. With no imperfections. It seems like a perfect, holy moment standing there with my eyes closed, voice raised, heart hearing. It seems like the way God meant it to be. A perfect moment with a perfect God, perfectly away from this imperfect distraction. On the other hand, I still have to live here and I need my God to be here, too. I need to know He's in this world with me, that He understands what it's like right here. More important, I need to know that He's still working here, still creating, still resurrecting, still building, still healing, still loving. Still here.
I have those moments, too. It's just that when I do, I find myself closing my eyes. Trying to hold onto it for a little while longer. Trying to keep it separate from this place, where it's so hard to worship some days, seeing all that is and aching over all that should be but is not. And then it's just so easy to lose sight of God when I dare open my eyes and see again.
But then there is this, and maybe it is something. Maybe the reason we close our eyes is for that residual light. The way what we've just seen dances behind our eyelids even in the darkness. The way it lingers in our sight for just awhile. Maybe that's our way of drawing God into this place instead of shutting Him out of it. Maybe it's our way of tucking away a little light in our darkness. Because I've had those moments, too - when I close my eyes just to remember that little dance of light that betrays darkness. That little bit of time that embraces the holy.
I can't help but wonder what I might see anew if I could ever figure out how to worship with eyes wide open. I can't help but wonder what I'm missing in my sight that I'm sure God sees, that maybe He would want me to see. I can't help but wonder how I would engage this world differently if I could do it while engaging God in the powerful way that comes so naturally when it's just me and Him. I can't help but wonder what good there is to do here, what holy moment there is to create, if I didn't shut myself away from it to hold that holy moment with my God. You know, just the two of us.
I can' t help but wonder because I'm just afraid. I'm afraid that if I spend all my time with eyes shut tight, I may fall more in love with the idea of God than with God Himself. I may worship who I think He ought to be or even might be instead of who He's revealing Himself to be. That much of Him, I can only see with eyes wide open.
The question is, then, can I worship the same?