Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Shower Tile

Our shower walls have brownish tile with lots of waves and squiggles and color variations, and I often imagine seeing images in the tiles while I shower, sort of like looking for objects in the clouds. This morning, one section of tile looked like a little bird, maybe a sparrow or something. I observed it more closely, trying to determine what patterns made it appear that way, and noticed that a curve here, a protrusion of color here, and the overall shape and size just managed to convey the outline of a sparrow. It had just enough detail to draw the eye and brain into filling in the rest with the appropriate details. This is how graphic artists, or even all artists, produce the impression of an object with just simple lines and shapes and colors.

Then I noticed a collection of shapes just below the little sparrow, and saw, instead, an eagle soaring in flight. Wings outspread, talons grasping forward, head and sharp beak poised in solemn control – a perfect image of a bird of prey.

So which was it? A dainty sparrow, or an attacking eagle?

Well, neither – it was a shower tile.

I then had the thought that we view life like this a lot of the time. We see or hear the outline of something, some vague report of a new thought or philosophy or theological truth or conspiracy, and we fill in the rest with our eyes and minds. We see this, or we see that, and we attack those who see something different. While in reality, it’s more like a shower tile. It’s not a new thought or profound philosophical revelation. It’s just some basic, simple fact or observation which we have blown all out of proportion. We add so much of ourselves to simple observations that it is hard to back off and see just the basic truth. We like to make so much of everything (like me making a philosophical discussion about a shower tile) that we tend to obscure the truth.

Father, please grant me the ability to see simple truth, and not try to make mysteries out of everything!

There is simple, non-relativistic, truth out there, but generations of human thought have managed to obscure so much. Whether we are modern, old-fashioned, realistic, a dreamer, atheistic, agnostic, liberal, conservative, an all-encompassing tolerant, mystical, simplistic, or whatever other label people might put on us, we all have moments of non-truth. Now, imagination and speculation are wonderful things, I agree, and there is definitely a place for dreaming, but we need reality too. I long for the day when we will no longer see things dimly, but will see things plainly and clearly. Face to face.