For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12
When we read this verse, we might yearn for that time of seeing face to face, when all things become clear and we see things as they really are. We don’t often pause to wonder if we will like what we see.
2020, the year of perfect 20/20 vision, is coming to a close. We have had the opportunity to look into that glass and see through the murky darkness. And what have we seen?
We’ve all watched videos of animals seeing themselves in a mirror. Some are puzzled, tentatively reaching out to touch their reflection. Some are threatened and attack. Some are excited and offer to play. All of them think that they are seeing an “other,” separate from themselves.
Is that what we see when we look at this year? This year has set the table with an unending buffet of “other” possibilities, so many “thems.” Thems of other race, gender, political party, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, age, economic status, education, and more. All the thems who are causing all the problems.
This year has brought us face to face. Do we recognize ourselves, or like the animals in the videos, do we mistake our reflections as “other,” as “them”? Are we willing to look in the mirror and see things as they really are? To see ourselves as we really are?
When I look at my own reflection in the mirror of this year, I see some things I wanted to turn away from. It has been revealing, embarrassing, disappointing, frustrating, and most of all humbling. Very humbling. And in that, there has been some relief, shedding false images, releasing burdens of control (which I never really had anyway), grieving loss. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Gratitude. And that has been good.
The Gospel of Thomas says that when we find what we are seeking, we will be disturbed, and that disturbance will lead to marvel. I love this verse because it promises that when we are willing to tolerate, even to embrace, the disturbance that comes from looking at ourselves honestly, individually and corporately, we will move through that disturbance to marvel at who we really are, jewels in the net of Indra, all connected, all reflecting the perfection of creation.
In the No Way Café contemplation group, we often end a gathering by sharing what we can take from our time together as we go forward. Looking at this year as a gathering, I am taking so many things, but perhaps primarily some heightened awareness of race and privilege. As I go forward, I hope to be more self aware, to listen more and speak less, to look more deeply at assumptions, to inquire rather than suggest, to trust.
What has this year reflected back to you? What will you take from this year as you go forward?