We look into mirrors several times a day, but the faces we see are not the faces others see. Because our faces are also mirrors - and who or what we mirror determines our effect on those we meet.
Have you ever met someone whose inner calm and warmth invited you to talk, to confide? Someone whose gentle acceptance allowed you to be yourself? I met someone like that yesterday, a social worker at Buffalo General Hospital whom I met with to sign my sister Linda's discharge papers as her Health Care Proxy.
When I arrived at the hospital yesterday, Linda was coming down the corridor, face wreathed in smiles, using a walker and accompanied by a very pleased physical therapist. After discussing Linda's paperwork, as we walked back down the corridor, the social worker invited me to attend Linda's final physical therapy session in their rehab area today, before she goes to St. Francis Home.
He must have wondered why I didn't respond at first. A huge lump was in my throat. Finally, tears spilling out, I said "I can't. Our son died over two years ago from brain cancer and he was sent here to Buff General for rehab after his second surgery. I watched him do rehab exercises here. I can't enter that room."
He nodded, understanding. "Some things are triggers."
"Yes," I said vigorously. "Some things ARE triggers. It's been hard coming here."
"And I know your Mom's at St. Francis with dementia, too. I'll pray for you," he replied gently.
"Thank you. The tears had to come. Usually I'm in your place, listening," I said. And, since - in a public place, no less - he had offered to pray for me, I explained how Paul and I had been co-pastoral administrators in a parish.
It was a short conversation. He probably didn't realize the effect he'd had on me. But his quiet, accepting presence had eased my heart. He had been a good listener, a deep reflecting pool that mirrored my face and my grief for me and allowed me to work through them. He had also been a calm mirror of God's compassion for me.
Our souls are meant to be still waters, mirrors reflecting God's Face as perfectly as this peaceful lake mirrors Autumn's glory and October's bright blue weather. A serene, unruffled soul will also mirror other souls back to themselves so they can see themselves more clearly.
Sadly, there are other people I've met who are so "full of themselves" that there's no room for anyone else in their conversation - or their souls. Their talk is constant and shallow; they are unable to be still. They haven't met God yet. They haven't met themselves yet. So they cannot meet others at any depth. Their faces are cold mirrors, reflecting only themselves and their insatiable appetites. They are incapable of tenderly mirroring others or mirroring God.
People who are still, reflecting pools are people who are comfortable with silence. They're not afraid to be alone with themselves. They're not afraid to be alone with God. In the silence they allow the Holy Spirit to stir the still waters of their souls into dancing, enthusiastic life. In the silence, they allow the Father to sift through the soil of their hearts and plant new seeds of faith, hope, and love. In the silence they gaze at Jesus' Face until their own is a blazing mirror of love reflecting Him alone.
C.S. Lewis, author of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," said:
"If we let Him, God will make us a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright, stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (although of course on a smaller scale) His own power and delight and goodness." ("Mere Christianity.")
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?"
God is. If you reflect Him, you are dazzling, radiant hope and light and love for whoever gazes into your face.