Fika (Fee-ka) is a Swedish word describing a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break in the day. It’s also a concept, a state of mind, an attitude. For more on fika, read my introduction here. Grab a cuppa and something sweet and delicious. Even better – do it with someone else. Enjoy the story. Let it be the beginning of a conversation – with someone else, or yourself. Head over to my website and leave a comment if you want to. Enjoy.
“Greater than the sum of its parts” by Rachel Naomi Remen
In the parable about the three blind men and the elephant, he who takes hold of its trunk believes that the elephant is like a snake, he who touches its leg believes that the elephant is like a tree, and he who leans against its side believes that the elephant is like a wall. But this is not a story about elephants; it is a story about blindness.
It is often difficult to understand the nature of things. There may be an elephant in our midst and all our efforts to analyze are part of it, to describe in greater and greater detail our own experience, the nature of what we have taken hold, of will not help us one iota in knowing what is real. This is true no matter how compelling your experience of your part or how many others are convinced of that experience or even share it with you. The elephant is beyond us all.
But sometimes we may catch a glimpse of a pattern, the bones of a larger meaning. In such moments we may recognize that things of apparent diversity and randomness may be coherent and whole. Robert Samples in his book The Metaphoric Mind describes a radio talk show where an author, speaking about his intuitive sense of a larger wholeness, asked anyone in the listening audience who had such an experience to call in and share it.
A long silence ensued during which the author and his interviewer covered their anxiety with small talk. Finally, the phone rang, and a woman began to describe a powerful and spontaneous experience of the interconnectedness and unity of all life. When she had tried to share this understanding with her family, their response was disappointing. Her frequent references to it caused them to insist that she see her family physician, who in turn referred her to a psychiatrist. She had simply stopped talking about her experience then, although she could remember it vividly and felt profoundly changed by it. Her phone call was the first time that she had generally shared it.
As Samples puts it, “All at once the entire board lit up. It became apparent that such glimpses are commonplace. Once they realized that this sort of experience might be normal, dozens of people were willing to call in and talk about it.”
Perhaps there is a wholeness hidden in the world, and the experience of separation that causes so much of our suffering is an illusion. If the world is really one large elephant, the wisdom may lie in holding your part loosely and loving what you cannot understand. And in helping others, here in the dark.
This story is published in My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen. Pp242-243. (Riverhead, 2000)
Have you glimpsed a hidden wholeness in everything? What did you learn?
What helps you to hold loosely and love what you cannot understand?
Have a good weekend.
Please consider sharing this post with someone if you found it helpful.
You can sign up to receive these posts here.