In the mirror- religion column

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2018

By Fr.Jonathan Filkins 

In our society today, there is an extraordinary amount of time, and billions upon billions of dollars expended, centering on how our personal exteriors appear to others. Entire entrepreneurial empires have been established upon our perceived need to appear to be the very best. It may be argued that it is really an effort to look far better, than our very best.

Powders, lotions, potions and the surgeon’s scalpel are some of the selected remedies when the visage in the mirror is displeasing. Sartorial expertise, for both men and women, has been developed into a high art, with fathom-less guidance on what we should wear, how we should be “made-up,” and what others will think of us. At its core is the reality of the truth of the ego, perhaps rampant.

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The best we can do, with all of this time and effort, is briefly alter the external visage. No matter how hard we try, the exterior ages, gravity takes its toll, our priorities change, budgets limit. No amount of modern magic can truly affect anything other than our thin exteriors.

The bathroom mirror, or a sideways glance in a restaurant window, confirms this truth. No matter how hard we try, youth and the peer pressures associated thereto, are fleeting. Yes, the tug on the purse-strings is strong to maintain this oh-so-fleeting youth-full image.

Few of us do not take a quick glance, in our mirrors, to ensure we do not have a bit of last night’s dinner residing between our teeth. For, after all, we have succumbed to the marketing dictates, and desire to ensure a good personal impression by all we encounter.

Today, we are regularly assaulted by images of beauty. Yet, we are also assaulted by images of great ugliness. People, both young and old, are regularly committing heinous acts against their fellows. Some of them look quite beautiful, or handsome, on their exteriors. Some have spent a considerable amount of time looking in their secular mirrors.

What if all of this time, or even a small part of this “exterior polishing,” was spent in examination of an “interior polishing?” While we do not have a physical mirror to assess our inward selves, the spiritual mirror is there for us to use. This does require us to take the initiative to place it before ourselves.

In honesty, this is not something we like to do; this reflection upon who, and what we are. It is far more expedient, and superficially gratifying, to work on the exterior. When we look at the interior, we may not like what we see, in the glaring light of truth. Of course, we may deceive ourselves and cover up the dark pastiche of our souls, with a white-wash of self-deceit.

Holy Scripture tells us the best we can do is “see through a glass darkly,” in our relationships with God. This is the shadowed veil of impaired vision; where we cannot quite see what is before us. However, while the image may be clouded, the vision is there for us to see. Here is an acknowledgement of our very ability to come close to God; with the promise of clarity on another day.

Let us consider stepping away from the mirror, and reflecting upon a greater power than ourselves. It may well be the better image we seek.