Special Glasses

A young woman faces the camera, hand cupping her face, wearing glasses with bright red lenses.

Good morning! Do you notice anything different about me today? That’s right, I’m wearing glasses. Have you seen glasses like these before? Any idea where I might have gotten them?

They came from a 3-D movie theatre and a movie where, if you put on these special glasses, some of things you see become more full: 3-dimensional. Instead of just flat on the screen, things are more like real life, where you can reach out and touch that dinosaur or that ship on the ocean or whatever is happening in the movie.

I’m wearing these because I want to talk with you about the way different people experience life differently – a little bit like how a person might see the world differently, depending on whether or not they are wearing glasses and what kind of glasses they are wearing. (Of course, some people use other senses besides their eyes to see.)

Let’s find out what is in the Wonder Box. (shake-a-shake…) Aha! More glasses. I wonder what you notice about these glasses? [the lenses are red] And what about this pair? [the lenses are blue]

I need two volunteers: one to wear the red-tinted glasses and one to wear the blue-tinted glasses. These special glasses are big enough that you should be able to put them on even if you already wear regular glasses to help you see. [get glasses on them]

I wonder what this little critter [stuffed lamb] looks like to you? [red glasses]
And how does lambie look to you? [blue glasses]
You can also touch the lamb and tell us how it feels... (For someone who doesn’t see with their eyes, but relies on touch and sound and other senses to perceive the world, this is one of the ways they could learn about lambie.)

Hmmm… how come ____ and ____ have a different perception of this lamb? Why are they giving me some different answers? Oh, because of their glasses!

How does it feel to look around at the congregation with these special glasses? Fun, silly, interesting… maybe a little strange, maybe a little confusing or uncomfortable. I guess it’s different than what you are used to.

So these glasses are a little bit like culture – ways that we understand the world around us and learn how to fit into it. We learn how to get along in life and make sense of the world through our family especially. Like how to dress, what to eat, our ideas about what is beautiful, the way we structure our day and relate to time, how we make decisions, how we express ourselves with our voices and bodies… there are so many things that you as children have been learning from the people around you, especially your families. After a while we may forget that these are things that we learned. They just seem like “the way life is.”

We learn our culture from other places too: from school, and what we call pop culture (movies, tv, music), and friends. And where else do we learn about how to make sense of the world and how to behave? Yes, here at church.

The thing about culture is, after we learn to understand the world this way, it becomes normal to us. It might even be hard to understand how someone else could have a different point of view.

Even though we might say the glasses are a bit like our culture – they help to color how we perceive the world – in real life it is much harder to “take off our glasses,” or stop understanding life through our culture, through all the ways of being that we have been taught. Let’s say you can’t really take your colorful glasses of culture off. I wonder if there is still a way that you can learn to understand better how your friend with different colored glasses is looking at life?

Well, I have some extra red transparency paper and some extra blue. Let’s see what happens when we put some red on top of your blue, ______, and some blue over your red lenses, _____.
Now what does the lamb look like? Aha… purple!? Well that’s neat. You might not be able to take your glasses off and put the other one’s on, but with some effort you can get a bit closer to how the other one is seeing… and suddenly you are experiencing life in a new way! Do you like purple? (me too)

Even though we’ve been talking about seeing as a metaphor, this is about much more than what we see with our eyes, right?… and everyone, whether they literally see or not, has culture – shared ways of making meaning and learning what ways of doing things are normal. I think it’s lovely that we have more than just one culture here at Westside. It makes things more interesting! And I can learn from other people who see differently than I do.

About the Author

Shari Woodbury

Rev. Shari Woodbury (she/her) seeks to create pathways for "the transforming power of love" to work in individual lives, in congregations, and beyond; she is currently the settled minister at the First Unitarian Church of Omaha....

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