Don't knock yourself out
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap.
There it was again. It had to be him. Every morning the same thing. I looked out the window over the driveway to validate my hunch. There, perched on the side-view mirror of my car was a bright red cardinal pecking at his own reflection.
The bird challenged his own authority every morning, thinking the reflection was another red bird trying to be him (the boss) and take what he had. After all, he was the manager of the surrounding yard and trees. A three-dimensional space that needed constant patrolling and protecting. And every morning in this same place he discovered a foe that looked just like him, could peck as exactingly as he could, and fought as long and hard as he did, until both he and his imaginary foe in the mirror got too tired to carry on. Then he would fly away.
I thought about how all that pecking and expended energy should be making him stronger physically, but all that fighting must have distracted him from being the best bird he could be. I marveled at the time and opportunities that were wasted fighting with himself, a foe that was not true or real.
I began to think of the daily struggles I face and wondered how many of them are self-inflicted by not recognizing who I really am. Could I unknowingly be exhausting myself with myself? Did I spend time worrying and reacting to a nonexistent foe?
I wondered if the bird took a moment to stop pecking and study the reflection, would he realize he was fighting with himself? His world would be instantly peaceful. He wouldn't have to fight for control of his territory or prove anything to any other red bird if he could just replace his ridiculous misconception with the real facts. By understanding himself, he would be released from his daily fear of the competition for his position and resources. He would be free to do more productive things.
On gaining a clear concept of who we really are, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "... in speechless prayer, ask God to enable you to reflect God, to become His own image and likeness, even the calm, clear, radiant reflection of Christ's glory ..." ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 150).
What does the "image and likeness" of God look like? Is it angry, self-justifying, insecure, selfish, unproductive, unemployed, or unloved? No, it looks friendly, industrious, happy, healthy, grateful, caring, peaceful, and loved.
I asked myself, "How do you get to the point where you pause and look at the real reflection of yourself? What could I do to stop the battle before it started? Where is the 'Reflection Handbook?' " Well, it didn't take long to figure out that I already had a copy on the shelf.
The book is chock-full of simple instructions and lots of supporting case studies. It has examples of leadership, conflict resolution, and extraordinary productivity and growth, all based upon trust relationships and proper motivation. It has lots of excerpts and instructions specifically about reflection, but we really need only one line of it to understand reflection.
This handbook is the Bible, and this is the statement: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mark 12:31). That statement has the inherent command to love yourself.
Rather than being so busy fighting with myself, being fearful, angry, insecure, or lonely, what if I stopped and looked open-eyed at my reflection and accepted my true reflection of happiness, industriousness, success, loving kindness, completeness - my true sense of being? I would be at peace, not only with myself, but with the world as well.
Now, when I look in the mirror, my reflection is just there. So all I have to do is pause and recognize what it is to be me, the real me as defined by God.
How effortless is that?
We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
II Corinthians 3:18