Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 1, 2011

Seeing One New Thing

Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC, is one of my new favorite writers. While in Cambodia last year, Pastor Alex told me about Batterson’s book entitled, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars.” On his recommendation I downloaded a copy onto my Kindle and read it on the flight home. Loved it. Batterson contends that the greatest regret at the end of life will be the lions we did not chase, the risks we did not take, the opportunities we did not seize, and the dreams we did not pursue. I am now reading Batterson’s newest book entitled “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity” — a challenging little volume about living out the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30). This weekend I was especially challenged by these lines in Batterson’s book:

“The French writer Jacques Réda had a peculiar habit. He used to walk the streets of Paris with the intention of seeing one new thing each day. It was the way he renewed his love for the city.”

These lines intrigued me because I am always interested in new ways to look at the neighborhoods and the people who live around me. I have previously posted reflections about how we can more carefully look at our community and about the practical steps we can take to develop peripheral compassion. So, when I read about Jacques Réda’s habit of walking the streets of Paris with the intention of seeing one new thing each day, I was challenged to consider how I could do the same in my community. Of course, I drive rather than walk to and from here and there. Nevertheless, I can still adopt Réda’s practice. Here is what I will do in order to see my own community in a new way so that I too can renew my love for the people and the place I call home.

First, starting this week, I am going to change my route to or from work each day. I have found that it’s too easy for us to become desensitized to the things around us when all we do is stay on the beaten path. In order to see and better appreciate my community I am going to leave for the office a little earlier or come home a little later so that I can drive through unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Second, I am going to drive a little slower. Now don’t get me wrong — I am not a fast driver. I drive an old vehicle that can easily make it from zero to sixty in a matter of minutes! The best thing about my aubergine-colored van is that it doubles in value every time I fill it up. But, I do intend to drive a bit slower than normal to decrease the chances of missing what God intends for me to see along the way.

Third, I am going to specifically ask God to show me something new along the way. For example, on my regular route to work I often have to wait behind a school bus that picks up a little girl in a wheel chair. Every time I pass that home on my way to or from the office I pray for that little girl and her parents. This family faces daily challenges that make life much tougher than normal. I know that there are other needs that are off my beaten path and that are waiting to be discovered.

Fourth, I intend to act on what I see as I alter my route and look for something new each day. God may just ask me to pray or He may ask me to act in such a way that I may be the answer to someone else’s prayer. I am excited about this new way of living adventurously in my own community. And, like Jacques Réda, I hope that this will renew my love for my community each day.

Note | For more on learning how to look at the world around us through new eyes and developing peripheral compassion, please read these previous posts:

Heather’s Challenge
Peripheral Compassion
What Lies Beneath


  1. Love it! Thanks.

  2. Thanks! I just downloaded the audio version of both books ( I’ll start listening to them tonight on the drive home … maybe I’ll take the long way to see something new!

    • Cool. You will enjoy these books. Blessings to you.

  3. (Matt.5:8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
    (They Shall See Him, Where Others See Stones!)

  4. Omar,
    I love this. I have been so drawn to go outdoors more to observe what I do not usually see. I was reminded today to see my community more and be sensitive to their needs. Love it!!

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