Mirror, mirror

February 8, 2010

In this week’s epistle reading, Paul gives us what is perhaps the most
alarming sentence in all of scripture: “But when one turns to the Lord,
the veil is removed.”

I don’t know about you, but to me wearing a
veil sounds pretty appealing. What could be more comforting than a nice
piece of tulle hiding my horrible-at-poker face? Or maybe a mask to
keep others from seeing what I rarely want to look at? After all, the Man in Black
endorses the mask (no, he wasn’t burned by acid): “It’s just that
they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in
the future.”

Paul’s words are alarming because I like the veil.
It protects me. It forms the first line of defense in the battle to keep
the outside world from seeing the person I’m afraid to display. A sheer
piece of metaphorical fabric is all it takes to hide my true feelings,
my true doubts, my true fears. With the veil on, I’m comfortable telling
all those little white lies that get me through the day. No, I’m not
sad; I’m just tired. . . .Yeah, I’ve never liked that singer either. . .
.Thanks, but I already ate.

The veil is my stealth technology,
my armor of avoidance. With increasing frequency, it's more than simply
metaphorical. It’s my iPod earbuds hanging from my ears or my phone
plastered to my face or my huge Top Gun sunglasses--anything that creates a buffer zone between you and me.

This
isolation may be comfortable; avoidance may be the easiest way to coast
through life. But Paul’s alarming words remind me that comfortable and
easy is rarely the best course of action. The veil isolates you from me
by first isolating me from myself. If I’m too afraid to display the real
me, then that true interior identity will vanish, and the veil will
turn out to be covering an empty shell.

That’s where practicing
in front of the mirror comes in. Paul says that “all of us, with
unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a
mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of
glory to another.” Every morning, I look at myself in the mirror and try
to see the version of me that God sees.

Of course God sees me
without the veil. God sees me both as I am now and as the person I could
be if I shed the veil. With gentle pressure, as I look at my unveiled
face in the mirror, God transforms me into the person I’m too afraid to
display, the person who best reflects the glory of God.