I call it the middle range stare. It’s not the thousand yard stare that most people think of as post traumatic stress syndrome. It’s not the furtive backward glance like I imagine Lot’s wife had before her pillarization. It is a steady slack jawed, mouth slightly open eyes focused on nothing stare.
Further analysis reveals that I’m not thinking about very much either. I’m staring into middle distance and not thinking about much of anything, but I’m thinking about this, because part of the Lenten journey is about staring and glancing and focusing. Jesus focuses on going up to Jerusalem and sets his face like flint. Enemies scurry in the background intensely watching to catch Jesus in some trap. He begs his disciples in time of trial to “watch” with him but they get the falling asleep paralysis and can’t see much of anything.
During Holy Week Jesus is in the temple area almost exclusively, being questioned and examined and watched. Jewish Christians believe this is a fulfillment of the Law that the Passover lamb had to be examined in public for three days to make sure it had no spot or blemish.
At the last supper there is the furtive glancing around for the traitor and the backward glances of guilty consciences who know full well that betrayal is perfectly possible with each of them.
Jesus had the vision. It was a 360• panoramic view of all things before the world even began. No furtive look back but a full scale scan of a plan working already in Eden. Then the laser focus of getting to Jerusalem. Those looking would see everything that God established to help humanity, the church, the State, even the family turn against the God who made them. Jesus, from the cross focuses on those trying to kill him, and forgives them. He cares for his mother. He watches out for us. He dies.
He had the big picture. Through everything he saw the joy set before him and he endured the cross and despised the shame. The joy is you. Christ did this all for you. Your the joy he saw when he looked ahead.
Now our job is to fix our eyes on him. A focused stare while watching out for our neighbors. A steady gaze that leads though all the changes and chances of life to life every lasting.