Skookum, Santa and the Searching Eyes of God

An iconic sign in my hometown calls to mind more than childhood memories

Our family moved to Wenatchee, Washington on a hot July day in the summer of 1964. It was the very day that country music legend Jim Reeves was killed in a plane crash.

An iconic sign with moveable eyes welcomed us as we entered town. The Skookum Indian greeted us with a knowing gaze. As a twelve-year-old I was impressed by the searching eyes and the eventual wink of that motorized apple label image.

Although I moved away from the valley when I graduated from college, regular visits home to see my parents and my brother weren’t complete with exchanging glances with Skookum. After I married, family vacations inevitably included trips to Wenatchee for my three daughters to be spoiled by their grandparents.

As we drove into town, I would alert my girls to the fact that Skookum was looking for them. With excitement Kristin, Allison and Lauren would crane their necks to look for the searching eyes of that friendly face. When one of the those moving eyes winked, they laughed with glee. They were convinced that the young Indian brave had spotted them.

Although that familiar image no longer graces the skyline of our town, I picture Skookum each time I drive the Avenue. For me, that face was a tangible reminder that my Father in Heaven is continually aware of what is going on in my life. And that’s a comforting thought.

At Christmastime we refer to the omniscience of Santa while singing “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness’ sake…” The lyrics of that holiday classic are meant to motivate little ones to be on their best behavior throughout the year.

Looking back, however, my sense is that the never-sleeping eyes of Santa are viewed through the lens of guilt or threat. “You’d better watch out! I’m telling you why…”

The supernatural traits ascribed to that fictional Yuletide figure actually derive from One who truly is all-knowing and ever-present. The God we worship, as the old African American spiritual declares, “never sleeps. He never slumbers. He watches over you both night and day…”

Whereas some view that cosmic all-seeing eye with a sense of dread, I find a sense of comfort in knowing that nothing escapes the purview of Providence.  There is a passage in the Old Testament that references the searching eyes of God. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 16:9. “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Rather than thinking of God’s awareness of our attitudes, actions and reactions from a negative point of view, the aforementioned Scripture suggests that God’s focus on our lives is a good thing. It is intended to have beneficial results. In other words, God’s awareness of my desire to please Him has a promised payoff.

The all-knowing nature of God is nothing to be feared. It is a truth to take hold of with gratitude. When we feel like nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen, we can be assured of the fact that God knows and cares.

Several years ago our family was traveling in Greece visiting the village from which my paternal grandfather immigrated to America. My girls, now grown, were introduced to an icon of an eye sold by a street vendor. This blue and white glass ornament symbolized the eye of God. This beautiful keepsake conveyed a simple but profound truth.

Unlike the winking eye of a Wenatchee icon that had defined their childhood, this “God’s eye” didn’t wink. It is a constant reminder, to my children and to me, of God’s continual awareness and His constant care. I, for one, am glad He never sleeps.