Holy Mirrors

I’m reading a book and something really struck me in one of the chapters I just read that I felt I had to share.

When Robert Fulghum (the Unitarian minister who wrote Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) attended a conference where the peace advocate Alexander Papaderos was speaking, he raised his hand when Papaderos asked if there were any questions: “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?” Fulghum remembers people laughing as they gathered their belongings to leave.

But Papaderos took the question seriously. He fished out a small round mirror from his wallet as the room shushed. He began to tell about a day when, as a small child in a poor, remote village during World War II, he found the pieces of a broken mirror from a German motorcycle. “I tried to find all the pieces and put them together,” he said. “But it was not possible. So I kept only the largest one. This one.” He held up the mirror.

“I began to play with it as a boy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept the little mirror and as I went about growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game, but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light–truth, understanding, knowledge–is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.”

Papaderos then looked at Fulghum and concluded, “I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world…This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

I sat with this awhile. The question seems a little ludicrous, but the response is beautiful. I haven’t spent a lot of time sitting and pondering the meaning of life, at least not in the way that I could write out and really explain to someone else. 

I liked this and felt I needed to share. It’s an interesting reminder of the mission and the focus. I found myself reflecting on what darkness I am reflecting the light of Christ in to and how effective a mirror I am being. It’s worth thinking about. 🙂

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