A person’s eyes can tell you a lot, though they use no words. Fear, panic, warmth, malice, surprise, welcome, pain – all these and more can strike us as we make eye contact with someone we meet or we see on our TV screen. Even as you read through that list, I am fairly sure you can picture the eyes that go with each emotion.
I belonged to a choir once, where the director would frequently encourage us to produce a good sound by singing with a “hello face”. And when our son was working for a time with prisoners in custody, I remember his describing an encounter with one particular detainee in whose eyes he could see nothing at all. He appeared to be just empty of any emotion and totally impassive.
People, especially those living alone, have sometimes made friends with regular TV presenters because they have such comforting faces. They love to welcome them into their homes because of the warmth they bring by the expression of their eyes. The former newsreader Robert Dougall (revealing my age again!) writes in his autobiography about receiving a letter from an elderly viewer who confessed that for this very reason she never missed a broadcast of his, even if it was at the time she was taking her bath. She hoped he didn’t think her disrespectful, assuring him anyway that he need not worry because she was always careful to cover the TV with a towel when she got out. (How she actually managed to be within reach of an electrical device while bathing I have no idea – the moral of the tale must be “Do not try this at home”!)
It may come as no surprise that the Bible frequently refers to God’s eyes. One of the Hebrew psalms reflects on the hopelessness of trying to hold out in a world of evil. Better to make a run for it. Then, the psalmist is taken up short, reminding himself that in