Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Face to Face

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? 

8 thoughts on “Face to Face”

  1. I have found in this year, Galen, that patience and trust have been close friends, not distant acquaintances. So much has been learned and taken to heart in deep and meaningful ways. The losses of times with loved ones has definitely forced me to look into the mirror, asking God for help and strength, as challenges seem insurmountable. I have received such immense comfort from Him through it all, and I'm trusting that the deeper connection I've made with Jesus will grow all the stronger in the year ahead.
    Blessings, my friend!

  2. Trust — that is a word I've been contemplating a lot lately. And the word connection. I've also been thinking about the connection between relationship and trust. Not only between people, but in a broader sense as well. Thanks for commenting, Martha, and Happy New Year.

  3. As always, I like reading your thoughts. I think for me this year has been humbling. I look at alot of things with more appreciation than ever. I feel that I have gained a stronger faith and that I recognize more deeply how much our Heavenly Father does love us individually. He knows us and our needs. He is in the details of our lives. I have had many answers to prayers and tender mercies. My love for others has expanded and I have more compassion and empathy for the plight of many.
    I have had many struggling moments too, which have caused me to reach deeper and strengthened my trust in God's plan for me.
    It the negativity of the year, I have been blessed to see the many positive moments.
    May you have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration. May 2021 one be a fantastic year for you and your loved ones. Thanks for our friendship!
    Sending loving thoughts and hugs you way!

  4. It has been a very difficult year for me, and in looking in the mirror at the person reflected back to my eyes, a woman who got very old before I even noticed it had happened. I think I actually like being an old woman. I have laid down the fantasy and accept the internal beauty that now comes through. Although aging is supposed to be gradual, what actually happens for me is that I refuse to notice the signs, until one day, I see them. And I am filled now with Acceptance. Forgiveness. Gratitude.

    I am grateful for knowing the others who walk with me along this path. You are certainly one of them, and I appreciate and celebrate your presence in my life. Blessings to you, dear Galen.

  5. I know what you mean about aging. Acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude — you have covered all the bases. That will sustain us and nourish us for our remaining time on this planet.

    Thanks for your kind words, DJan. I look forward to another year of our blog friendship.

  6. Like you, I have found blessings in a difficult year. Top of my list is spending so much time with my grandson. I supervise his online learning (third grade). We have always had a special relationship, but all the time we are together now has deepened our bond. I hope he will always remember this year, not just because of the downsides, but because he got to spend all this time with his Nana. Best wishes to you and your family for the new year.

  7. Personally, I am absolutely grateful for 2020. It showed me that I can overcome any situation. While initially life looked inconvenient because of the lockdown and all the other regulations in place, I couldn't help but appreciate these measures – I chose to see the safety aspect. Also, gratitude for a comfortable home, food to eat, running water…and family together. Things could have been much worse, as we were seeing with others whose loved ones were stranded far away with no means to return home in the near future. Any perceived hassle we might have had simply paled in comparison.

    I think 2020 was an excellent year that made us slow down in many ways and taught us to appreciate what we had, rather than dwell on "what might have been".

    And? I must definitely mention with pride that we shopped less, needed far less than we usually did and enjoyed the togetherness we were blessed with at home.

    I think I am ready for anything.

  8. Thank you for your 2020 reflections, Vidya. Indeed, 2020 forced us (invited us?!) to be present. It was impossible to plan into an unknown future. So we all slowed down and became more present in our lives. I remember in the early days of the shutdown, walking in my neighborhood and seeing no cars, but many people out walking or riding bikes, often as a family. At the time of course no one knew it would last so long, so people were very positive and enjoying their time to slow down and relax. It helped that the weather here was very nice in those early weeks.

    By the end of the year, the novelty had worn off and people settled into the long view of things. Still with gratitude and presence.

    And you are right about shopping. No great loss to me, although I do miss eating at restaurants.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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