I can’t think why it happened. They were playing dodge ball in the kitchen while I cooked supper. (In hindsight, perhaps this was one of those moments for which God invented video games…) I’m not entirely sure Daddy wasn’t involved. Somewhere in the midst of the over-steaming broccoli and baby screeching for his fallen carrot stick, one of the boys crashed into the glass panel on the door. I didn’t notice, somehow. But later, in the after-bedtime calm, I surveyed the evening’s carnage. There was the mirror. Split in half.
Other than seven years of bad luck, it’s not a great loss. In the previous seven years, I’ve certainly seen worse. (The day before, we had fished a metal washer out of the computer’s cd player. In an effort to cover their tracks, the little sinners were trying to pull it out with a magnet. No dessert that night.) So the mirror was replaced with an equally-cheap one yesterday. It bulges in all the places where I can see my hips and thighs. Just like the old one. So life goes on.
But in those few days when our kitchen was mirror less, I actually missed it. I’d walk around the corner with a funny smile, unconsciously checking my teeth for chia seeds as I breezed by. But I’d find myself staring at the stained wood of the basement door. Oh, right. The three year old and I would cruise by as he practiced walking with his walker, and there was no reflection standing there to reward him. A dozen times, I walked out of the laundry room to check my outfit before running out the door. I had to just assume there was baby drool on my right shoulder and a coffee stain on my lap; there was no reflection to confirm it. I realized I depend on that mirror for many more quick glimpses of my physical appearance than I knew. More than I liked, in fact. I’m so vain.
Give me Your eyes to see.
Nearly every day, for many years, I have prayed those words.
His eyes, they scan a room and see the Pharisees resplendent in one corner. His eyes, they gaze over the rest of the rabble crowding in at the door of the biggest hut in town. His eyes glance up as the tiles are pulled away. He shades His eyes with a work-callused hand as bits of straw and mortar break free and sunlight beams down on His head. An immobile man is lowered down on a tattered mat; His eyes see the men at the top of the ropes. He notices the sweat and hope mingled on their determined brows.
And He looks over, again, at the local leaders, perched pedantically on the best stools in the house. He looks past their robes, past their smirks, and He sees the emptiness in their hearts. And (Luke 5:17) His power is present to heal them.
But they don’t see that. They watch as He forgives the crippled man of his wrongs. They blink as the atrophied limbs straighten and stand. They see the reaction of the crowd to the miracle-Maker. And Jesus, He pivots the mirror straight at their stoic faces. “That you may know…” He says. But they don’t see – this was for them. Instead, they scrunch their eyes tight against the light as it filters down through simple faith above them, and miss out on their own miracle. He sees them as they turn away. And they go home blind.
When God commissioned the tabernacle to be built, back in the desert, the people willingly brought what was needed to make it. Gold, cloth, metal, jewels, dyes, spices, and – mirrors. Bronze, smelted pure and polished smooth, was the best mirror money could buy then. It was priceless (particularly on a forty year trek though the desert). And it was the “serving women” who offered this – this irreplaceable, doubtlessly expensive, possession – to be made into a wash basin for the home of God among men. (Exodus 38:8). The serving women gave their mirrors – to be made into a sink. For God’s house.
Sudsy water swirls around my dishpan hands. It is warm, it is speckled with butter floating amidst the bubbles. It is turning brownish, cloudy, and little bits of scrambled egg from breakfast make any clear reflection a pretense. Only a vague shadow of my head as it bends low shows any contrast over the rippling surface. But it is enough.
The undulating outline of my head surrounded by dirty water – there I am. Now I see in a mirror, dimly. That image, I can’t make out the features, but there is the picture I’m supposed to see. There’s the mom, stained in love and used parmesan cheese. There’s the wife, for better or worse in tousled hair and sweatpants to greet her husband as he rolls out of bed every morning. There’s the daughter, a deja vu picture of her own mother thirty years ago. There’s the friend, the sister, the neighbor, welcoming despite socks with missing heels and unwashed hair to make yourself at home. There’s the serving woman, busy at her high calling to do the low tasks, who’s precious mirror became a useful sink in God’s house.
So many superficial mirrors surround me. There are the magazines, the movies, the friends who clearly have it all. There’s the super mom image I’ve conjured in my mind’s eye. That glass-thin reflection seems so real – until it cracks. No longer can I depend on that vulnerable shallow picture to show me what I really look like. There are dimensions it cannot show. But when I look into the eyes of He who sees the deep – there is the reflection that matters.
He shows me the hurts that left holes where bitterness tries to live.
He shows me the wrongs I accept that leave no room for truth.
He shows me the tender spots that I’ve cordoned off to protect but instead kept Him from holding them safe.
He shows me the picture of His bride and I realize with a blush of humility that it is how He sees me.
And suddenly, that mirror on the wall doesn’t have much allure.