Through a Mirror, Darkly

Attempting to reconcile the abiding quality of love with development of the human perception of that love, Paul writes to the church in Corinth that “for now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then we will see face to face.  Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

I have been pondering questions of sight and seeing lately because, like many people in my age group, I am undergoing cataract surgery to remove cloudy lenses in my eyes and replace them with lens implants.  As I write, my left eye is recovering from surgery.  Its vision is somewhat improved but still blurry.  This eye experiences much more brightness and light than the right eye.  I removed the left lens from my eyeglasses.  (Look closely at the image accompanying this post.)  The right eye, though its view of the world is dimmer, perceives my surroundings with much greater clarity and no blurriness since it is still benefiting from the remaining lens in my glasses.

I wonder about the ways in which Christian discipleship is a bit like my currently differentiated vision.  Do sacramental symbols open us up to a world that is brighter yet a little blurry precisely because they operate in the mode of symbol?  Does daily life all too often swamp us with dimness that is also characterized by the clarity of our faults and the faults of others?

At the same time, I wonder about darkness that insinuates itself into Christian liturgy.  At Mass, do we extend a sign of peace to some of those standing nearby but not to others also standing nearby?  Does a show of fashion and consumer style obscure the humble yet daring promise to live life wed in the Lord?  Whose voices are excluded from music ministry or preparation for worship?  What place is there in our worship for those whose vision and / or hearing is impaired?

Likewise, I wonder about the light that shines through in daily life, at times more luminously than in our liturgies.  Liturgy is to shed light on all dimension of Christian life, but liturgy is also a matter of celebrating and raising up the light that is already before us in the world.  Recognizing the God at work in our liturgies requires recognition of God at work outside of our liturgies, and vice versa.

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