Where has My Reflection Gone?


Magical Madge and Poor William enjoying a beverage in Moon Lake near Clarkdale, MS. Photo by Galilee Howell

Magical Madge and Poor William enjoying a beverage in Moon Lake near Clarkdale, MS. Photo by Galilee Howell

Aye, Pontificus Minimus laments the loss of his reflection, but this does not mean he is “Vlad the Impaler” or another nocturnal, blood-sucking vampirish creature, unable to see his reflection.

It simply means that 21st century living in the good ole US of A does not allow much time for reflection. Oh, we talk about the importance of reflection. We verbalize the need to ruminate about our lives — what we are doing well and what we could do differently — but do we actually do anything to remedy our lack of reflection?

Jesus commended Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus of “leaving-the-tomb” fame, for listening to what He said. Martha, while doing important things around the house, was not praised for staying and looking busy. Mary received accolades for recognizing what mattered—spending time with Jesus, and reflecting on his words of life.

Paulo Freire, the noted and oft-quoted 20th Century Brazilian educator, was concerned with praxis, a word he coined to define the coupling of reflection and action. In praxis, theory leads to action, which in turn leads to transformation, and actions based upon reflection change lives and circumstances.
Pontificus Minimus loves to pontificate, but he ever more does get too busy to reflect as often as needed. Without reflection we cannot improve those things needing change.

As a young lad, Pontificus Minimus loved driving a tractor or riding on the back of a planter, watching the seed hoppers dispense their contents. There was little that Pontificus Minimus did not think about in great detail as he whiled away the long, sultry days of spring and summer. Surely some of those teenager’s thoughts are unwittingly marbled into my psyche and manifested in my behavior.

Freire asked, “What if we discover that our present way of life is irreconcilable with our vocation to become fully human?” Pontificus Minimus asks, “If our present way of life is too busy to reflect on things that matter and things needing change, then are we fully human in our expressions toward others?” It is in reflection that we grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob speaks in a still, quiet voice. He requires that we slow down and listen in order to hear Him! In I Kings 19, He did not speak to Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but He spoke to him in a still small voice after the more demonstrative elements had ceased their fury.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, workers worked in small groups where they discussed politics, religion, and other items of interests. This type of vocational dynamic produced an erudite and well-informed citizenry. Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory, which contributed to increased efficiency in the workplace by standardizing tasks, also helped eradicate communal and individual reflection as work became more production-oriented and less relational. Gone was the poet/warrior, scholar/tradesman.

Teaching on a non-collegiate level used to allow time for the instructor to reflect upon best practices; now, the demands of education require and speak about reflection, but they do not allow time for reflection. Only on the collegiate level do professors have time to reflect, and in so doing, their instruction has the potential to be more effective.

Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, television, music, video games, GPS, and the internet, while providing many excellent and helpful resources, have beat the art of reflection into the shadows. Only the man and woman who purpose to reflect will be the ones to reflect.

The devil is not just in the details but in the whole “too busy” lives we lead.

Let us slow down, find time for individual and corporate reflection, and begin the process of changing our behavior based upon our reflection.



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  1. The following is my latest case of “Reflection” from our “Elders” 73+. While spending the day 03/22/2011 working on Enid Lake for The M.D.W.F.P.”s North Mississippi Fish Hatchery @ Enid, Ms. Upon running into an old family friend fishing in Dew Creek, I inquired of Mr.”B”. You doing any good? Yes, son.He shared with me. They started spawning in Dew over night. I replied. You sure they are spawning? This response followed: ” Son. If I tell you a rooster can pull a boxcar, you hitch him up”. Nuff said.

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