Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Learning from different perspectives

I'm almost always skeptical of people who profess to know "the truth" about things.  Seems each of us only gets only small glimpses of the truth of things, and so need the insights of others to assemble even just a few pieces of the puzzle, in order to make sense of the greater whole.

Yesterday I noticed some maple seeds shimmering in the early sun rays. Pictured at left are a variety of perspectives of these seeds taken within just a few moments of one another.  Amazing how differently they appear, depending on how the sun strikes them, the angle at which they are viewed and what appears behind them.  Image how greatly their appearance is altered in the afternoon versus evening, or during the spring, fall, winter or summer months.

Imagine again what varying descriptions one might have of these same maple seeds base on touch, sight, taste or sound.

I'm reminded of the story of four blind people that were each introduced to an elephant and then asked to describe the animal.  One was lead to the tail, and he felt it very much like a rope.  Another felt the vast firm side of the elephant and described it to be like a wall.  The one whom was led to the leg of the elephant felt it very much like a tree.  Finally another person who was brought to the trunk described it  to be just like a water hose.  All accurate descriptions, yet very limited in their overall understanding of the complex nature of a large elephant.

Struggling to make sense of the complexity of people and experiences one of my counseling professors loved to quote the Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard.. life is a mystery to be lived, not a puzzle to be solved.

Earlier on in college I discovered his free spirited perspective on the nature of things doesn't work as well in biology or chemistry class, where the goal seems to be learning to categorize and distinguish things by their properties, etc.  

How can we hope to accurately describe the complexity a person based on our limited history and perspective? As unique individuals created in God's image I love the way God described him/herself to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14), "I am that I am".  How's that for a definition?

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