(Note: While I’m on vacation, TLC will feature guest posts from Landon Saunders.)
A student goes in to take the final exam in a course entitled Ornithology, the study of birds. He has spent days poring over his notes and reading the assigned materials. He feels ready for anything.
The exam is passed out, and he takes a look at it. The entire exam consists of drawings of the feet of various birds. By looking at only the feet, he is supposed to name the bird the feet belong to.
He looks at the exam for about sixty seconds and realizes he can identify none of the birds, and he is too disgusted to guess. He folds the paper, not even bothering to put his name on it, and hands it to the professor.
Before he can get out the door, the professor calls to him, “What’s your name?” The college student turns around, pulls up his pant leg, dangles his foot in the air for the professor to see and shouts, “You tell me!”
We’ve probably all had the experience of thinking we understand something or someone only to realize later we were looking at a small piece of the picture. The full picture of a human life is enormous. Who could ever see and understand it all? But the quest to understand…that is a beautiful part of what it is to be human.
The trick is to seek that understanding with a full measure of the humility that we may not be seeing the whole picture.
In this time of so much polarization and divisiveness, let’s seek the humility that would help us see the “other” with greater kindness and understanding. It might be healing.