In Plain Sight

We were making too much noise.

So our youth leader shooed us out of the large room for a few minutes as he ‘hid’ an ordinary, blue ink, Bic pen somewhere in the parish hall. He assured us that he would place it in plain sight; that is, not underneath, behind or in something that would impede us seeing the pen out in the open. That would mean the pen would be lying on the fire place mantle, shelf, chair, table, floor — somewhere clearly visible.

The rule of the game was once all of us were back in the room, we had to remain silent — not say a word or indicate by our body language where the pen was, once we spotted it. It took me a while of scanning the room for the pen. At first the silence was unnerving as I was self conscious, and preoccupied with what me peers were doing and whether or not they had yet found it.

Then it was a matter of settling down inside of myself and spending my energy not on comparison and competition — which only distracted me further on my quest to find the pen. It was an exercise in observation and practicing the art of seeing what is there.

Afterwards I reflected that the game “In plain sight” required important life skills — to practise mindful presence, to be quiet, to acknowledge that which serves only to distract myself from being, to have the courage to settle down inside of myself, and to pay attention to what is actually in front of me.

I also learned that the answer often lies in the ordinary, the simple, the common. Our world seems to place value only on that which stimulates our senses, makes a lot of noise, and is rife with frenetic movement, speed and action.

But often what we need is exactly the opposite and “in plain sight”, if we choose to see it.

Oh, by the way, the youth leader walked silently around the room with the rest of us, looking around quietly. He put the pen sticking out of the heel of his shoe. It was right there for all of us to see.

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