Saturday, December 19, 2009
On Mirrors and Metaphors
In a recent Sunday talk at the Center for Spiritual Living where I recharge my spiritual battery every week, Rev. Edward Viljoen retold a story from Robert Fulghum that used the metaphor of the mirror to explore life’s purpose. Ever watchful for stories that will fit under my umbrella of creativity, my eye is always snagged by a good metaphor. I couldn’t find a little round hand mirror, so the picture above is the mirrored coat tree in my living room. You get the idea—it reflects light into dark places. May your light shine.
A Greek philosopher and teacher ended a lecture asking, “Are there any questions? In the audience was Robert Fulghum who asked, “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”
Fulghum relates: “The usual laughter followed, and people started to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was. ‘I will answer your question,’ he said. Then taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into it and brought out a very small, round mirror, about the size of a quarter. Then he said, ‘When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and e lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found several broken pieces of a mirror from a wrecked German motorcycle. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would not shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
I kept this little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.’
‘I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.’ “And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my hands folded on the desk.”
http://www.robertfulghum.com/ Robert Fulghum’s Official Website