Duck/Rabbit: it’s all in how you see it

There is in all visible things … a hidden wholeness. — thomas merton

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery — annie dillard

If peace comes from seeing things whole, then misery stems from a loss of perspective. — mark nepo 

Open your eyes! The kin-dom of heaven is here! — Jesus (Matt. 4:17)

We all see things differently. That’s the truth of it.

To some, a gold ring is just a ring — a formal symbol of a commitment to fidelity and marriage — a non-essential, but decorative symbol of status, self-worth, and idealistic endings. To another, it’s a symbol of abiding love and unity that holds all things together, an inheritance of a deep history of love that is as improvisational as it is mysterious.

To one, the framed photograph on the wall is just a picture of a wooden barn with an old rusty car in a field of grass beside it. To the photographer of this picture, however, it speaks to the mystery of past and future — held together by how one sees it all in the present.

We see things differently. And the way we see the world really does determine how we live. Our vision of things often has much to do with the kind of relationships we seek, the job we take, and what we do with our spare time — and our spare change.

We may see certain people as just plain wrong (or worse, as enemies for whatever reason), we may also have our defenses up and our judgments loaded. And because of these mindsets and beliefs, we may miss the redemptive possibilities “those people” carry inherent in their very being. Others may see in all people the Imago Dei – the tapped or untapped potential of divine connection that rests within and inspires all of life.

How we “see” in this life we’re in, even in this COVID-19 induced chaos in which we find ourselves, makes all the difference in how well (or how poorly) we navigate this time. One of the virtues we can practice to bring both interest and hope to this chaos is humility.

Perhaps not so surprising, the idea of humility is rooted in the word “humis,” or earth, as in the very substance and ground of our being. Something about the practice and grounding of our lives in humility provides a pathway forward through the chaos and the binary perspectives we all seem to keep getting stuck in – either/or, Right or Left, black/white, mask/no mask, Coke or Pepsi.

But the reality is that life is more both/and than either/or, and the path to help us all get there is more about humility and curiosity than belief and certainty. We are all part of this larger reality which invites a deeper connection through curiosity and humility.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the early 20th Century German philosopher, once wrote about the famous “Duck/Rabbit” illusion – that the dilemma for human existence is in how we perceive things: seeing things as they are or as we interpret what they are. And it’s a confusing but fine distinction — the humble and curious exploration of which could amount to a paradigm shift in how we see everything. Or as Richard Rohr calls it, “the change that changes everything.”

This Sunday, August 2, let’s take a look at the Virtue of Humility as one more practice for bringing interest and hope to times that seem otherwise. Join Charme, me, Brad, and the band as we look at the practice of humility for empowering a wider vision — a paradigmatic shift — for the kingdom at hand!

See you Sunday!

Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven

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