Reflections

I am always momentarily disconcerted upon seeing myself in a mirror. Even back when I was 25, or 17 (ah! 17!), or even 9, I was consistently surprised and dismayed by my reflection. Now, of course, with my thriving collection of gray hair and mystery blotches, the vexation is even more pronounced. I feel like an exotic butterfly’s caterpillar gazing doubtfully into a barnyard puddle. Because, c’mon! My reflection looks absolutely nothing like the real ME. Does yours, to you? I wonder.

I bet it’s a related phenomenon that many people can’t stand to have their photo taken, and not because they’re afraid that the camera is going to “steal their soul” as some primitive cultures would claim. And yet… maybe as a group they all have that same unnamed awareness that the physical image a camera captures is somehow incomplete, distorted, wrong. A lie.

But – how can we as Christians allow ourselves to profess this incongruity and still maintain a genuine reverence of the One who so tenderly designed our physical bodies? I think the only way is to ponder the consoling eternal truth.

We should remember that what we see in a mirror or a portrait today is only our earthly garment, a body in its fallen state. We need to practice stewardship of it, but needn’t become overly fond of it. After all, the body holds no beauty in comparison to what we are beginning to recognize in our souls: that our current inner potential for love, creativity, and unity with God is only a beguiling hint of our true future glory. And already that mere hint is more authentic, more magnificent, and more divine than what our physical bodies can possibly reveal.

St. Paul assures us: The body “is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body…. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one…. We will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (See 1 Corinthians 15.) Oh, wondrous news! Someday, St. Paul says, we will possess a body that proclaims who we REALLY are; a body as triumphant and capable and amazing as the one The Risen Christ inhabits.

How will we recognize each other in those days? Well, as your Christian Service coordinator, it’s my job to suggest that we practice now trying to see in ourselves and one another our true beauty; that we continue to strengthen our Christian identities through acts of worship, scholarship, service, generosity, and compassion; and that we all become rather comfortable with being a bit uncomfortable in our own skin.