For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall fully know,
even as I am fully known.
– I Corinthians 13:12
THE ANCIENT GRECO-ROMAN WORLD MUST HAVE BEEN A LOT LIKE OURS
… since the Apostle Paul (writing here to the church in Corinth) seems to use plenty of analogies, metaphors and real-life examples of what was going on around him that we can still easily understand. Gosh, Greek society must have been narcissistic too. Imagine that!
People, no doubt, enjoy focusing on themselves.
I mean, how many times a day do I pause to check my appearance through my reflection? I straighten my clothing while walking through reflective doors at the bank; I pull down my rear view mirror to check my hair before exiting my car; I even peek at the little visual box of myself while I’m video chatting, perhaps so I can ensure my expressions are appropriate for the messages I wish to convey.
People more ancient than us might not have had Skype, but they certainly had this same reflective instinct and…yes, they even had mirrors! And, just like us, they found reflective alternatives when necessary. Don’t forget the story of the famous Narcissus. Cursed to fall in love with his own reflection, he couldn’t tear away from the water’s edge, where he found he could stare at the object of his affection (himself) all the day long.
I DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU THE IMPRESSION THAT I THINK CHECKING ON YOUR REFLECTION IS A BAD THING.
I rather think Paul was suggesting it. His description of the mirror represented it as a tool to use. Tools can only serve whatever purpose is determined within the hands they’ve been placed. A shovel can dig a hole for planting a beautiful new tree of life…or it can dig a grave.
A spiritual mirror can serve as a tool to promote self-aggrandizement…or serve to help us see our inner transformation taking place –
WE’RE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE FAIRY TALE EXAMPLE OF THE DESTRUCTION WROUGHT
when trying to form a reflection for our own purposes, rather than being transformed by truthfully admitting what we find there.
Snow White’s stepmother, a.k.a. the Evil Queen, is well known for asking, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” Because of her sad need to self-aggrandize, to refuse to fulfill anyone’s desires other than her own, she could have never been satisfied with the answer. Like Narcissus, she could not tear herself away from a warped fantasy to live a life of seeing beyond herself. She never stopped to think that she, too, could have had the same fairness as Snow White – had she only considered what was being reflected from her heart. Instead, she’d go to all measures to manipulate what she reflected to get the effect she desired. Ironically, she turned herself into an ugly, old hag to try to fulfill her own plan of being the fairest.
That’s likely why Paul reminds us we won’t be fully successful in our reflections because we only see dimly now. But, if we’re consistent in picking up our spiritual mirrors and reflecting on what exists within our hearts, a more lovely display should begin to emerge as we allow there to be less of our fleshly cares and more of our spirit-filled ones.
In love, -jody
Update: My post was removed from a writing community today, with an email expressing that I hadn’t met the site’s criteria of providing a “So What?” It honestly doesn’t bother me to have gotten the boot; apparently, I deserved it. Because, in further reflection, it DOES bother me to think that, in challenging us (that’s you AND me) to engage in deep heartfelt reflection and the recourse that act has on humanity (the greater good) over any mere individual’s self-centered motives, maybe there’s not a strongly related so-what anymore in our world.
Isn’t that, after all, the problem? Regardless of whether bombs unexpectedly collapse giant buildings where people came to work that day or explode in celebrating crowds? Regardless of whether children are gunned down in “safe places” or they’re dying from preventable diseases like malaria in places from which we “feel safe”? Oh, I know. We feel horrified – temporarily…but so what? We rant on a Facebook post here and there…but so what? We turn off the news when it’s too disturbing. We go back to our undisturbed lives. We choose to vacation to refresh ourselves, rather than traveling somewhere to help others. If no one really notices the ugliness we bear in our hearts, we might feel slightly remorseful for awhile; but if we don’t get called out on our behavior…so what?
SO WHAT can WE do to make a difference in this world? Since I got called out, I guess I’m passing it on.
I’m left with only one recourse here – to turn it over to your hands, wise readers, and ask – if the message resonated on your heart chords the least bit, what’s the “so what” in it for you?