There’s more than meets the eye
Invisible to the naked eye
I can do that with my eyes closed
We don’t see eye to eye
To turn a blind eye
To give someone the eye
A sight for sore eyes
Eyes are the window to the soul

When I’m really on top of it, I try to greet students at the door. All the teacher education books and administrators tell you it’s a good idea, and I do like it—I just don’t always have time. But when I do, It helps with taking attendance, for one, and it reminds me that these are individuals, not just a roomful of brains with computers that make my pile of grading grow at an alarming rate. When I stand there and say hello to everyone, I’m reminded that Aaron was absent last hour and needs a handout, or that I haven’t heard Amara speak up in class much this week.

I always try to look them all in the eyes. This is truly why we’re encouraged to stand at the door—it makes everyone feel seen. Sure, it can be awkward. Eye contact usually needs to come with a smile, but for some reason I feel silly flashing a fully toothed grin at every kid, so I settle for that weird sort of upturning of the mouth and squinting of the eyes that says “I’m smiling on the inside.” (Or as Tyra would say: smize.) It’s sweet and quirky to watch some of my students with autism stop and make very meaningful eye contact with me as they say hello. And sometimes I don’t get any eyes at all because they’re staring down into their little black rectangles.

Exodus 21:23-25
But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.


Her eyes were bigger than her stomach
To feast your eyes on
The apple of my eye
Bird’s eye view
She had an eagle eye
I have my eye on you
To be in the public eye

Matthew 6:22-24
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

In Media Studies, we’re watching commercials.  The media industry is funded by advertising, so we’re trying to teach kids to be critical of the ads they see—or at the very least, just to notice them. I talk about how to look under the hood of the car we’re all riding in and figure out how it works. How advertisers harness your emotions and connect your desire for love, relationships, acceptance, and leisure to a product. How they twist your identity and sense of self, wringing you over and over until money trickles out like water. How the eye is the most valuable part of the human body to an advertiser. “Look!” I say. “Eyeballs on products! That’s all they want! Ads are in the TV shows you watch, on the walls of the hockey rink, before your YouTube video, on the sides of the bus, on the shirt of your favorite Instagrammer!” 

Some of them don’t get it: “Just because I watch a Doritos ad doesn’t mean I’m going to get up and go buy Doritos.” 

Some of them do. “Miss Zwart, there was so much product placement in the TV show I watched last night!”

Matthew 7:3-5
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house
I didn’t bat an eye
Get some shut eye
To cry your eyes out
Pull the wool over your eyes
Get another pair of eyes on it
An eye opener
Sleep with one eye open
Stars in your eyes
In the twinkling of an eye

Acts 9:17-19
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.

I’ve been reading a lot about psychoanalysis this month. I know, I know—it’s debunked. It’s for a grad class where I’m doing a Freudian/psychoanalytic reading of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. But a mid-century psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, came up with this period of child development called “mirror stage.” When babies are born they don’t even know what a person is, he argues. Eventually they figure out that people exist (like, a person comes to feed them), and then they figure out that they have bodies (they love looking at their toes, for instance), and then one day someone shows them a mirror, and they see that there’s a person looking back at them. They don’t know that person is them, per say—just that it’s a person. But then mirror stage happens. At some point, the baby looks at the person in the mirror and thinks that’s me. Their sense of self is established.

I have a vivid memory of this. Not from infancy, but from a time when I was maybe eleven or twelve. I was in the bathroom at our old house—textured brown walls, huge mirror in front of the sink. I looked into my own eyes and for some reason the thought just came to me: this is me. This is my life. I get to choose what to do, and I’ll never escape this mind, this body. It was something about my eyes that did it, how they follow you around the mirror, searching your own face.











Easy on the eyes
To catch someone’s eye
Bedroom eyes
Eye candy
Googly eyes
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


  1. Kyric Koning

    Man, there’s a lot going on here. I have always liked eyes. I especially like how you divided your piece into sections each with their own eye theme.

  2. Tavia Kelly

    So true. The eyes have it all, as dynamic as your post. Well done.

  3. Daniel Bos

    I have been keeping a list of English idioms about the eye as part of all the Biblical idioms about the various parts of the body. Thanks for all the ones I had not thought of!
    You treat the Parable of the Body’s Lamp as teaching us to be careful about what we look AT. Let me know if you want some analysis of the Hebrew [evil eye, good eye] idioms and the Greek [single eye] idiom involved in this parable.
    Children also cover their eyes when they do not want you to see them. My amateur psychologizing about Saul was that he was blind with shame and confusion until the Spirit-of-Christ-filled Ananias touched him and called him his brother. He dared to open his eyes again!
    Thought provoking post. Thank you.

  4. Courtney Zonnefeld

    This reminds me of a well-curated museum experience, with each selection shaping, informing, and enhancing the others.

    How strange and lovely, too, to scroll into an email or an article headline while reading a post calvin piece. I often find that, when collecting ideas for a piece, I start to notice connections everywhere. You’ve preserved that sense of “eureka! again!” in this piece’s structure. Very cool!

  5. Josh deLacy

    I keep coming back to this piece. Such an interesting, engaging format.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

by Mary Margaret Healy, February 19, 2020
by Abby Zwart, June 12, 2014
Look at the Women
by Meg Schmidt, June 3, 2018
Piano Hands
by Caitlin Gent, October 4, 2017
Her Sapphire Eyes
by Matt Cambridge, February 11, 2020

post calvin direct

Get new posts from Abby Zwart delivered straight to your inbox.

the post calvin