(1 Corinthians 13:12)
This phrase came to mind today as I reflected on those with whom I have had the privilege of journeying, if only for a few brief moments. I am struck by the imagery of a mirror. I can run and even make a pretty solid attempt at hiding, but there is no escaping my self. Even when I try to forget myself and attend to another, I must remember that my perspective is always affected by my experience and sense of who I am.
This past weekend I had the joy of being with my very dear friend Lisa as she took a significant, intentional step in her spiritual journey. While I am delighted that she has chosen to hook her wagon to the same denominational clan as mine, what truly thrills me are her steadfast courage and quiet listening as she continues to trudge along on this great adventure. What truly thrills me is her desire to love others – especially those “others” who are most often shunned or forgotten. She is not afraid to face vulnerability in others because she is willing to own and embrace her own brokenness.
I am struck that this scriptural reference to seeing dimly is embedded in scripture that speaks to us of love. Though frequently read at weddings, there is nothing smarmy or wimpy about the love described here. It speaks of giving ourselves to God and to our neighbor, trusting that in spite of our blindness love will prevail. The imagery of a mirror reminds me that I cannot love others without loving myself, that, because of the way we are made, these two actions are inextricably linked. God calls us to regard ourselves with the same love and compassion with which God welcomes and holds us.
My hunch is that this kind of incomprehensible generosity can only be received in authentic vulnerability.