Pushing up through the snow warming their faces in the sun, the little hyacinths begin their dance of Spring. Such a blessing to be able to watch flowers unfurl their tiny petals loaded with color and fragrance; I’m thankful each day for the gifts of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, especially sight … it reminds me of the story of the Five Blind Men and the Elephant:
Five blind men are telling about their experience meeting an elephant, what this elephant is like. One blind man holding its trunk states “it is like a serpent”, the second blind man says, holding its tail, “No, no! You are mistaken, this animal is like a rope!” The third man touching the belly of the elephant says “You are both wrong, my dears, the elephant is just like a wall!” The fourth one, who was touching the leg said “Ho! see the elephant is like a pillar, you are all mistaken!” The fifth and last blind man cheered and said “Lo, my dears,” while holding onto the ears of the elephant, “it is like a giant winnowing fan!” Let me say this to all, we are all blind here–in the world of God and we are wandering telling our own words, of our experiences which can be different from other versions and conceptions! Kind of like experiences in our practices and workshops, eh? One feels a tail, one feels an ear, but we all feel the Elephant and know our experience is real.
As we envelope ourselves in our Lenten practices, I’d like every student of iconography to feel their own elephant. Think about your perceptions and perspectives–imaginary, make-believe or somewhere in between. Words have energy, don’t you know? “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes” — a quotable quote attributed to Mark Twain … the inhabitants of this tiny planet of ours is so intent on character assassinations, serpentine wagging of tongues and outright intended sabotage of experiences that we lose sight of what we are doing and why we are doing it.
When we practice the art of “Silently Listening” and enter into the sacred world of the deaf, blind, mute and dumb to rely only on our sense of touch-we can experience the stillness of the desert of our hearts. Dry, parched, withering but thirsting for truth. I have found in this way, we can open the passages of communication with our Creator and bask in the sunshine of His Grace. Grace, which is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God which we do not deserve. Today open your gift of Grace. Open your eyes to see it. Open your ears to hear it. Open your heart to touch it. Then share this Grace with others.