I first noticed the direction of the windows in San Diego, and then I saw the same thing when we wandered around the edges of Lake Ontario closer to home.

The windows ó the big, beautiful, statement windows ó all point in the direction of the water, of the view they value so much. Even the homes that arenít touching the sand seem to crane their necks and point their windows toward the shore.

Garages and roads are tucked away so as to not interfere, to not interrupt.

It makes perfect sense. Land along the water comes at a steep price, and builders know ó even before they lay the foundation ó where the focus will be.

I suspect my foundation was designed that way, too. That I was made to see joy and grace. That my soul was created to point toward love.

But often I drag the dirty laundry and the dishes and disheveled baggage and put it right in my line of vision. Troubled relationships and misunderstandings act like dark curtains, and the critics ó both imagined and real ó seem to pull up lawn chairs and build bonfires on the beach that are hard to miss.

My stunning view begins to get cluttered with self-doubt, with comparison and stress. Iím close enough to see the light sparkle off the water and to hear the crashing waves. Close enough to feel Godís peace and grace and joy. I just need to rearrange the focus.

Critics can go on the street or, if helpful, in the garage for containment and safe storage. Misunderstandings are cleared up and pushed aside to allow light and forgiveness in to do their important work. And baggage can be sorted and put away in its proper place.

Then, nothing stands between me and where my soul was created to point. And I can enjoy the view.

ó Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who canít stop writing about what is sacred and holy. She is a native of Oklahoma but makes her home in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two crazy boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. Find more of her writing at SimplyFaithful.com or check out her book, ďSimply Faithful: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life.Ē