The things we don’t see.
In this beautiful short story, Stepping Stones and the Zen Master, Cindi Pugelise on her blog Writing Around The Bend (take a look, it’s worth it) tells us a tale that will have a familiar ring to most of us at one time or another, and will more than likely have happened to us, but Cindi relates it to us in a clever, memorable way.
On some occasion, we have all failed to see something that is right in front of us (Cindi’s stepping stones), and noticed that “it’s always greener on the other side.”. Cindi’s Zen Master ‘opened her eyes’, so that she could see something she was blind to before but which had been there all the time, the stepping stones across the river so that she could get to the greener grass.
In Cindi’s telling of this story, in her own distinctive way, I see parallels to a much older story or rather testament, to both an individual tale, and a theme in the book from which it comes. The book I have in mind is a little less then two millennia old and the particular tale I am reminded of, is of Saul’s Conversion, found in The Bible, in the book of The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9.
Saul, later to become Paul, who was a persecutor and killer of Jesus’ followers, we see (no pun intended) had been temporarily blinded by Jesus’ light (Acts 9:8). His sight was restored, a few days later, by a follower of Jesus, Ananias when “something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes” (Acts 9: 18)
The first time Saul saw the light, a “light from heaven flashed around him” that we must assume was so bright that it seared his eyes. When Ananias healed Paul, the healing was more than just curing the sight, it was an opening of Saul’s eyes to a new light or, perhaps, enlightenment, to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ananias, then, was the zen master to Saul
Nowhere in the gospels, even where Jesus performs miracles by healing the blind, does he ever explicitly make visible what is before peoples eyes, in the way Cindi’s zen master did. Jesus had a different approach; his way of opening peoples eyes (explaining a concept?) was by teaching through parables, stories he made up to illustrate a point and by doing it was, at least metaphorically, like The Zen Master, his aim was to ‘open peoples eyes to see clearly’, albeit that they were ‘looking’ at different things.
With thanks to Cindi, whose short story
Stepping Stones and the Zen Master,
was my inspiration for this post.