On Using the Tool of Discernment


   If we assume that  Discernment is a tool of the mind, like a sieve, that we use to process and separate out the finer parts of life, then it's similar to "refining" powdered sugar by sifting it through a sieve. And what of other, similar kitchen tools? - like the funnel or the strainer? What do these tools all have in common?

   Well, kitchen knives and rolling pins also have the ability to process something into what we want- like chopping vegetables into bite-sized pieces, or flattening dough into crust.

   However, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve all process by passing a product from a source through the tool's open end, and out the other side, resulting in "what we want", or enabling us to add it to our “recipe”. 

And truth be told, don’t we all have our ongoing recipes? - the ingredients of our life:

like our purpose, our values, our sense of self and need for growth or new experiences.

   So, take for instance the standard kitchen funnel, we’d all agree, it’s generally used to expedite the process of transferring a product, like honey or oil, from its larger source container into a smaller one, i.e.  the exact amount the recipe calls for, or the exact amount the smaller container holds.  So, the “flow” as it were, goes from the source, into the tool’s open end, through the tool, and out the funnel's smaller end, causing, in the process, a kind of specific “focus”.

   And the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve all have this in common – a wide open end, as well as the potential to process something through it, to the other end, transforming the stuff in the process.

   But what if we turn the funnel upside-down, pointing the small end towards the source flow? Then the upside-down funnel is similar to when we insist on leading with, and pointing our limitations towards the "flow of life”: i.e. “I’m not smart enough", "It takes too much money ", "There’s never enough time in the day", "I’m not good enough at this to"…

Doesn’t this upside-down funnel way of thinking always cause our sticky messes we later have to clean up: 

similar to trying to funnel honey using the small end first?

   And what of the strainer? What does the strainer do? When we insist and strain to hold onto the coarser parts of life, how does it feel? Maybe a bit like soggy noodles, which is great if that’s what you want. Certainly, straining does have its place. But isn’t it ironic that when we strain boiled vegetables, while we are pouring them into the strainer, there’s almost a sense of loss as the "good water"  flows down the drain?   Of course, it's certainly easier to strain boiled potatoes than to push them through the funnel-upside-down, or not!  

Obviously, there are times when we just need to pull something big out of the flow of life and simply enjoy it.

No questions asked.

   And that brings us to using the sieve, the Tool of Discernment. Discernment isn’t coarse like straining, or focused like funneling. Certainly, there is no need to sift soggy noodles nor sticky honey! However, like the funnel and the strainer, using the big, open end does matter.

   So, when we choose to use a sieve, and the Tool of Discernment, we are pointing our tool's open end to a source flow that we already know is already fine.  So, we are sifting and separating out only the "finest" of the "fine" to add to our life's recipe: our priorities, our values, relationships or life experiences. Discernment is a process of "refinement" to get just the essence as it were, like the "refining" sieve action of a "fine" tea bag releasing the flavor of the leaves into a cup of hot tea.

   Unlike the funnel’s focus, or the strainer’s ability to hold onto the coarser stuff of life, the sieve creates "refinement". 

Sifted powdered sugar on chocolate cake certainly adds a level of "refined" beauty that is measurably different from “hand-tossed powdered sugar”!

   So, if you're looking to improve your life's recipe, you may just want to consider using the Tool of Discernment to add a bit of refinement as you sift through the options in the flow of your life.

It may be just what the recipes calls for.