«Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will’ » (John 13:7).
In his book, Las gafas de la felicidad [The Happiness Glasses], Rafael Santandreu, a renowned Spanish psychologist, writes about a Hindu legend.
An aging Hindu master got tired of one of his disciples who was always complaining. One day, he sent him for some salt. When he returned, the master instructed him to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and drink it all. When he asked him how it tasted, the young man replied it was very strong. The master smiled and told him to throw that same amount of salt in a lake. Both of them went to the lake and the young man did as instructed. Then, the old man told him to drink from the lake. When asked how it tasted, he replied, «It’s delicious and refreshing.» He hadn’t noticed the salt.
Then, the old man kindly explained to the young man that pain in this life is like salt. We’re all given a handful of pain, but the bitterness or flavor we taste in the end will depend on the container we put it in. What we should do then, according to the legend, is enlarge our sense of things and, instead of being glasses, become lakes.
Although it isn’t a Christian legend, it reminds us of the importance of having a broader view of things when noticing the hardships around us. We’ve read about trials and how much God can bring out of them. It would be interesting for us to decide to do this salt exercise with different troublesome situations that come up.
In one of his doctoral theology classes, professor Allan Walshe told about how he was once blocked in a dead-end street in front of a parade. He needed to get to the other side to access an ambulance to seek help for someone, but faced with such a large crowd it was very difficult for him to see what there was on the other side. His vision was narrow; he could only see what was happening between one corner and another. However, being aware of his problem, a man who was in a tall building, many feet above ground, showed him how to get to the other side. That man had something the professor did not: a broader vision of things.
We know that things on this side of eternity many times seem complicated and we can’t see the full image, but we’re invited to trust that there is someone who does see the whole scene and can guide us so the pain we experience will dissolve in a lake instead of a glass.