Print Version    Email to Friend
What do you see?

Life is full of experiences both good and the bad often depending on the situation we find ourselves in. I once fingered it out, “The difference between a good day and a bad one is our attitude.”

Well, it is one way of looking at things. We come across people who give us heaven on earth. We also meet people who epitomise what is bad, according to our own standards.

Yes, we are different and we all know that. But what is our impression of our friends, relatives and all those we meet? This story may help us in our quest for answers.

A woman wanted to teach her child a really important lesson. She took a blank piece of paper, put a dot on it and showed it to her child, hoping he would say what he saw. After
a while, he said, “I just see a dot.”

The mother paused and said, “I was expecting this answer. I am holding a piece of paper in my hand, but all you saw was the dot, not all the white around it. It is the same in our daily life. What is bad attracts the most. The good is just like the clean part of this paper—unseen or less talked about.”

The dot symbolises the bad—that’s what attracts people’s attention. Take a look at the rest of the paper and you will learn how to make a well-rounded judgement.

The story sounds familiar and we may say, “It is just a child’s answer.” But the same thing happens with many of us. What do we see?

Let’s think of the way we talk about others, especially when they are not present and we are asked for our impression of someone, what do we say?

Do we mention the good, the positive side or, just like the child, only the dark side? I remember preaching on the gospel passage about the Wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11), one of the points I focussed on was, “Being saved from humiliation.”

In performing his first miracle, Jesus revitalised cheer in the hearts, but he also saved the couple from the obvious humiliation.

They ran out of wine… It would have been a disaster and what would the guests have said? 

Would they mention the fun they had before the wine ran out?

However, the merciful Lord, understood their need and saved them from the gossips. If I was shown the piece of paper, what would I have seen?

Human nature has its limits. We may prepare well. However, let us stay cool and realistic—something can always go wrong. “We did our very best” should be the right attitude.

What do you see? A man went to a talk. When asked if he would recommend it, he just said, “It was too long.” What about the content? Well, his attitude showed that he had nothing to share, except the length.

Others may have a different reaction. They may have been interested in the content, not just the length. Different person, different mind. 

Another might say, “It was boring.” And we may admire him and say, “He is honest.”

The mother set out to teach the child not to just say a part of the truth, but the whole truth. But that can be hard.

What do you see? One day after Mass, a person from Canada visiting friends said to me, “Father, can you actually read the Chinese characters.”

I replied, “Yes. I do prepare.” She continued, “Yes, I know you prepare. But it does not mean you read the characters. You may write it in Romanisation, right?”

“I do my best to read the characters directly. Those I do not know, I ask before I start. That’s what I meant by, ‘I do prepare’.”

She looked dubious and, to make sure that I was telling the truth, said: “Then get a book and read it to me. If not, I will not believe you…”

Laughter was the natural response, but those around us were astounded… Actually what did she see? Only one side of the reality I think.

Now it is your turn to continue this meditation. What do you see? What do you think? What do you say?

What do you see? At this Lunar New Year, we see red paper with best wishes written on them, Good Health, peace in coming and going, Be successful in all your plans and other things. May these wishes be a true message from our inner selves and bear fruit in the lives of many people.

Father Dominique Mukondai CICM