THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT: (John Godfrey Saxe)

“It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,

who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),

that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and happened to fall,

against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:

‘God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall?’

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: ‘Ho! what have we here,

so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis might clear,

the wonder of the an elephant is very like a spear.’

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,

the squirming trunk within his hands, ‘I see,’ quoth he,

the elephant is very like a snake!’

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:

‘What most this wounds beast is like, is might plain,’ quoth he; 

‘Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.’

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, said; ‘E’en the blindest man

can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,

The marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!’

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,

than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,

‘I see,’ quote he, ‘the elephant is very like a rope.’

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long, 

each in his opinion, exceeding stiff and strong.

Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween, 

tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,

and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!”

 

It seems that we all have opinions about everything and everyone. We like to prattle on about our keen insights and know the truth. At times, we refuse to let the facts get in the way. Facts and opinions are not always the same, but it is at time difficult to not become confused when we are arguing with someone else. And, we love to argue. We love to be right – and hate to be corrected. Like small children, we crave approval, first by our family,  then by our peers. We so often form prejudice and judgments of others based on our emotions and cultural place and time. It is easy to form lines of division and work to separate the sheep from the goats, once we decide who are the sheep and who are the goats.

We like to create divisions, such as conservatives or liberals, and then while identifying ourselves as the good guys, blame the other side for all of the ills of society. “Our church is the one and only true church and there is no salvation outside of our church.” Our Nation is comprised of the good guys and the other nations are jealous and want to invade us and change us – they are the bad guys. We choose religions, ethnic backgrounds, sexuality, skin color, language, age, economic class, education, etc., etc., to draw the lines between ourselves and choose our own view of reality and then hold on.

We like things to be either black or white – right or wrong – with no grey matter. It is difficult to accept that while we may be right at one level, we are probably wrong at another. We don’t like living in a world of both/and; we prefer either/or. The fact is, this is a very human trait. Popes and Presidents like to be right at all times – infallible if you will.  But, so do we all. The Pope cannot be infallible – because I am, and I disagree with him. Ipso Facto.

We have a hard time living with mystery and the unknown. We know that the vast Cosmos has been around for approximately 14 Billion years and has been unfolding ever since and that we are part of that. We keep growing in our understanding of creation; of life itself. We would do well to look up into the blackness of the sky and to stand in wonder and awe, realizing that we (I) am not the center of the world, but rather part of it. With all of the wonderful diversity of existence; of plants and animals growing together on this one little planet in a vast Milky Way Galaxy, we are called to see that we need each other. We need diversity of life; we need clean water, air, and land and we are nurtured by all that is – and have been for generations.

Life has always moved where it can survive and prosper. Life, like the universe is in constant movement and growth. We are like the fetus growing to adulthood, carrying with us all of the stages that we experience along the way. We are called to recognize that  we together are responsible for the continuation development and growth of creation coming to be around us and within us. Part of growing up, requires that we learn how to let go of the need to divide, the anger and hatred of others that threaten our own sense of security, because they happen to be different. How do we work together, sharing ideas, listening to one another and creating a just world? That is the question.

One answer: “Love the God of Creation and Love one another. Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.”

Another answer is to see the passover everywhere – that God’s Spirit is moving throughout creation and calling us forward, not backward. The pain of creation is the pain of the cross, but only through the pain of the cross and death, can we experience the resurrection to new life. We are called to be one – not clones – not always agreeing or seeing things in the same way, but at the same time to empty myself of my own ego and work to bring healing and life to our world. We are called, in my faith, to recognize that divine Spirit of life exists in every single person, in every animal and plant, in every grain of sand and every drop of water. This is the mission of Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Pentecost. This is the mission that we engage in when we stop and allow the Spirit of Life to lead us out of the desert toward the promised land.

We are called to stop our whining, complaining, blaming and get on with life. We can feel sorry for ourselves and spend our lives in self-pity, or we can stand up and work together to make a difference.

HAPPY EASTER – HAPPY PENTECOST – HAPPY PENTECOST: It is up to us to decide which road to take and to understand that the Elephant in the room is always much more that we can imagine.

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