I retreated at breakneck mower speed and my shirt was hastily fashioned into a whirling, whip-like weapon. I downed three or four of the marauders and escaped—shaken but unscathed.
After morning worship I shared my traumatic experience with a married couple and the compassionate husband offered, “Man…I wish I could’ve seen that.”
As you can imagine—though I’ve never been one who actually looks forward to lawn-keeping—the prospect of mowing again was less than appealing.
But then something amazing happened. My neighbor had a most fortuitous discovery: My nemeses are not bees, hornets or morbidly obese wasps. They are 17 Year Periodical Magicicada. And according to my reading, they do not sting or bite. (However, according to my experience, they do cause heart-attacks.)
But let’s be abundantly clear: my “near death” experience was grounded in a misperception. The fear was real; the threat was not. Was my fright therefore irrational? Not at all.
I was merely thinking, emoting, and behaving according to my beliefs at the time. My beliefs at the time (held with firm conviction) were not illogical; but neither were they factual. That is, my beliefs were rational but not true.
My adventures in lawn-mowing remind me of a word from C. S. Lewis:
What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled the philosophical question. (Miracles, p.p. 9-10)
We should probably keep this mind when engaging folks who see things differently from us. Lots of things are matters of perspective. It is said that perceptions are stronger than reality. Maybe so—but they aren’t truer. And thankfully, they can change.