In a prayer to the Father by Thomas Merton there is a line that alludes to the fact that the Father loves us because He sees His Son in each of us.
Seeing You in another, seeing Your face in the face of another, can make someone about whom we are indifferent seem very precious. But it’s not an easy thing to do. In our lifetime we probably look at hundreds of thousands, maybemillions, of faces; but how often do we see a reflection of You? Indeed, how often do we even look for it? We are far more likely to take the example given by a person’s life as a reflection of You. What we do in that case is to mentally link up things they have said or done that conform with Your own life or what You taught.
But that’s not exactly what I mean here.What I mean is looking at the stark humanity, warts and all, of another human face and seeing You; seeing joy, hate, love, anger, pain, fear, anxiety, worry, compassion, concern, etc., in eyes the same as Yours.
On rare occasions I am able to look upon a soaring bird, a radiant sunset, a verdant forest or garden, or a spectacular blue sky with puffs of white and momentarily transcend my self. In that moment something of what You are is amplified. But in these displays of creative magnificence we somehow put more stock than in the masterpiece of man. Maybe it’s because it’s so much harder for us to find the innocence in man which is more apparent in nature.
I attended the funeral of a friend the other day – a priest and former classmate of mine. The homily was exceptionally long because the speaker had many reminiscences to share about his friendship with the deceased. He extolled the many virtues and charismas of his friend. It was good, but it struck me how we always wait until after a person is dead to explore his/her mystique. Why is it that we wait till after a person is gone to allow the wonder and goodness of him/her to reach our consciousness? We typically wait till then to reflect upon that person’s life – to look for You in them. Everything then is in the past tense.What is it about open eyes, the sound of a voice, the movement of limbs, the breath of life that makes it difficult to remember to look for You? Take these things away and,apparently, it’s much easier. This is all backwards. Once someone is gone we’ve missed our best chance at seeing You in them.