Many of us know the story of a group of blind men who, having not encountered an elephant before, learn what the elephant is by touching a part of the body. This ancient story out of the Indian subcontinent has each of the blind men forming a very different image of an elephant based on the part of the body they were able to touch. The one able to touch the trunk thought the elephant was like a snake, the one who touched the body thought it was like a wall, the one who touched the tusk thought it was like a spear, the one who touched the legs thought it was like a large cow, the one who touched its tail thought it was like a rope and the one who touched the ear thought it could be like a magic carpet.
We can think of many times in life where we have only had part of a story and have created a whole narrative around it. Sometimes we are tempted to make judgments about people and situations without taking the time to step back and see things from a range of perspectives. Slowing things down, deep breathing and having empathy helps to create a fuller picture. Slowing down and being thoughtful shifts thinking from the fear driven flight and fight sections of the brain to where good thinking, compassion and empathy can come into action. In times of high emotion, we can step back, pray to God to guide and calm us and to see things more fully. Re-centered and empowered we can take the time to graciously be fully present and attentive to the whole picture.