On What You Can't See (Which Is Almost Everything)


A week or so ago I posted a video about octopuses (or octopi), masters of camouflage. I almost fell out of bed the first time I saw it. What’s perhaps most fascinating about the way an octopus can fool his prey, us humans included, is that scientists can’t explain exactly how it works. 

As the video closes, the scientist narrating says something I haven’t been able to get out of my head. He says, “We’re behind the eight ball if we think it looks like how we see it.”


I talked to my husband about that sentence and we shook our heads thinking of all the things happening that we see one way and that might not be that way at all…

Listening to public radio a few weeks ago, I heard an interview with a guy who won an award for his work on dark matter. He said scientists theorize that 96 percent of the universe is made up of stuff we can’t see, that only 4% of what exists is even perceivable. 

Science writer Richard Panek explains, “The overwhelming majority of the universe is: who knows?” 

In case you missed that, scientists believe in the existence of totally invisible and intangible matter in amounts 23.5 times more than what we can see and touch. 

Excuse me?

I rode home straining my eyes, looking for what I couldn’t see.


In one way, all of this makes sense to me. Because I believe in a reality much bigger and truer than this one. Because I believe in another world rubbing right up against this world I’m on, seeping into it, rising from cracks in the thirsty ground.

I think maybe dark matter is what matters. Maybe…

But in another way, this mystery shakes me and challenges me—me so certain, taking every step as if my foot will surely land on hard cement.

I look and too often blindly trust my eyes, my cornea and retina, cones and rods.

My husband Justin is color blind. Every day he lives with the awareness that what he’s seeing and what is are two different things. He holds up socks and asks if they match. He asks his daughter which crayon is purple.

For me though, Miss 20/20, “full-color” vision, I struggle to imagine a reality other than the one I perceive. I grab the purple crayon without so much as a second glance.

I think you might be with me, living a life in which we take for granted that everything is known, concrete and sure.

Is it possible that if we can’t see 96 percent of the universe we might not know everything about everything?

All I want to suggest it that all of us do what my color blind husband does: be humble and ask questions.

Ask God and ask His people:

Does this look like how I see it?

Today, I pray we’d all have eyes to see, and that we’d remember that sometimes we don’t.