I really enjoy brain teasers and optical illusions when they come across my email or Facebook page, though I don’t tend to share them or pass them on. The main reason I enjoy them is how amusing it is to see how long it takes for my brain to twist, bend and flip the information to get the ‘expected’ answer or vision. The other reason I enjoy them is that they challenge my way of seeing and perceiving information coming at me – how much I take in and how much I unknowingly filter out.
Take for example this teaser:
What do you see? Some may see one image, others two. The shapes and colors you tend to focus on will play a large role in how you answer the question. Your personal experiences and your sphere of influence will also play a role in how you answer this question. Now, what if I were to change the question: Can you see the spindles? See the Chess Pieces? See people bowing to each other? By suggesting what you might see, I have influenced what you will see. The same is true for how we view the world.
What comes to mind first when you see:
a young girl with green hair and her nose and tongue pierced?
a person walking on Main Street in the summer with a winter coat?
a young adult male wearing a hooded sweatshirt and pants hanging down revealing his briefs?
a man and woman walking on Main Street with two children?
two men walking on Main Street with two children?
Did you focus first on the descriptors (green hair, summer time winter coat, ‘hoodie’) and then come up with a response or did you focus first on the person? What we think about the poor, Muslims, Russia, refugees, immigrants, … is strongly influenced by personal experience, peer groups and the information and teachings we give credibility to. What we read, watch, and listen feeds our thoughts and determines our actions.
It’s this type of social stereotyping Jesus challenged in John 9:1-41 (the gospel reading for March 30th).
Was it a Blind Man or a Man who was Blind? The first statement defines the man by his disability while the second names a man who has a disability, two very different realities. The homeless person is still a person without a home. They are hungry, cold, and lonely. Jesus said, care for them: See the person as a person FIRST – See the whole person not just as a sum of their parts.
Seeing and looking for Wholeness is part of who we are called to be as Christians.
One more brain teaser:
Aoccdrnig to a research sduty at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a word are, the only iprmoetnt thing is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the human mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but raeds the word as a wlohe.
Interesting, even our minds know to see the whole as more than the sum of the parts. Maybe that’s how GOD intended it to be?
Deep Peace to you,