I’ve recently started supporting a boy called Kotsa in Ethiopia through an organisation called Drawn From Water. A few days ago he finally received the glasses he has needed for a long time to help him see properly, and he looks very smart in them. Hopefully these will help him playing football, which he loves, and at school as well. My comment on the blog was a prayer for more clear-sightedness from local people and officials as well, because Kotsa is from a people group who consider certain children to be cursed and better off dead (mingi). Kotsa was declared mingi because his top teeth came before his bottom teeth, but he was thankfully taken in by the Drawn From Water group instead of being killed by the local elders. It seems unbelievable but I am so grateful that Lale, Yabibal and the Drawn From Water team are working to save children, raise awareness and change hearts and minds.
I remember when I was training to be a dramatherapist, we had a session on the importance of supervision. Trying to work out a definition for supervision I think I came on the idea of how it is like having new glasses – literally ‘super-vision’ but drawing on another person’s point of view. Working as a therapist, the importance of having on-going supervision is more than just a need for line-management. There are many benefits of discussing your practice with an experienced professional who will be able to suggest alternative approaches, help you to separate out your own issues from those of your clients and generally offer another perspective. It’s good to be accountable to someone else – particularly when that someone else is sympathetic, constructive and insightful.
One of the themes of my PhD was about seeing the whole young person, not just a young offender or someone who has harmed somebody else. While particular concerns may require specific types of intervention, each young person has a range of strengths as well as needs. Building on strengths and seeing the positives are vital for developing a beneficial helping relationship, and seeing more of someone’s potential may be the key to recognising their own ways to help themselves. However competent we may hope to be as professionals working with young people, the need to listen to the young people, their families and others who know them well came across loud and clear during my research. We don’t know everything.
John Hegley, a favourite of mine from the Edinburgh festival and a proud glasses-wearer explains here how the wearing of glasses acknowledges his vulnerability and ‘the wider imperfection that is the human condition’. I am personally fortunate to have inherited a freak combination of my mother’s long-sightedness and my father’s short-sightedness, requiring as yet no external occular assistance. Hegley’s poetry reminds me of the many metaphors related to eyesight and glasses which would surely not have occurred to an individual with so-called 20:20 vision.
There are many more issues where I wish others saw more clearly – the need to provide sanctuary for people who are fleeing persecution; the importance of trading more justly and generally treating other human beings with dignity and compassion. But I probably need to see the plank in my own eye before criticising others. Sometimes I am blind to the needs of people around me, and I’m back to needing God’s perspective. He who brings sight to the blind can bring insight, clarity and wisdom if we will humble ourselves, acknowledge our weaknesses and seek His truth and light.