Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

18 April 2010

Seeing ourselves in the mirror

I used to tell people that I wished I could see myself when I walked through a door.  Any door.  I wished I could see the physical impression I made, the whole me, the me with my strengths, and all my visible weaknesses.  It has taken a long time to be able to do that.

Then I had a lover who was my mirror, and I saw how beautiful I was capable of being,  but also how vulnerable.  Because I did not know the impression I made,  I was so wrapped up in my inner life, my outer life was neglected, and that naivete was written all over my demeanor.

It's true: mirrors have become terrifically important to me these days, as an image, as a motif, as a way of understanding.  See my earlier entries on mirrors and the palindrome.  If you dare.

One of my favorite themes from Rumi is this, which is said to be the saying of the "everlasting and eternal Lord":
"I am not contained in the heavens or in the void
or in the exalted intelligences and souls; 
but I am contained, as a guest,
in the true believer's heart,
without qualification or definition or description,
so that by the meditation of that heart
everything above and below may win from Me
abilities and gifts.
Without such a mirror neither earth nor time 
could bear the vision of My beauty.
I caused the steed of My mercy to gallop
over the two worlds. 
I fashioned a spacious mirror."
From this mirror appear at every moment
fifty spiritual wedding-feasts;
pay attention to the mirror,
but don't ask me to describe it.

The mirror; the vanishing point; the reflecting surface; the point of juncture where the two reflected sides of the palindrome meet.  This juncture is the abode of God.

Sometimes we get so hung up at the imperfections that we see in the mirror.  That zit, for instance, right below my eye.  It's slowly going away, but I know it's there, because I can even see it, just at the lower range of my vision.   I could become so obsessive about it, trying to hide it with make-up, or I could just let it be.  I've been letting it be, taking a small delight in the fact I can see it a little, and each time I let myself be conscious of it, I remember what I saw in the mirror that morning.  That imperfection unites me with my whole self, if that makes any sense.

But I also know it's there because of all the chocolate I've been eating.  So I'm trying not to eat so much chocolate.

Google earth is amazing.
Google earth makes it possible to see stuff like this:

This is the volcano erupting in Iceland.  (source: FromTheOld )

Or this:

(source: gearthblog )

(This was actually taken from the Space Station traveling overhead.)  This is a result from the Chilean earthquake.  Also the following entry, which includes images of Haiti after the earthquake.

Getting cameras up into the distant skies over our planet gives us the opportunity to get a mirror image of ourselves, flaws and all.  Remember the awe the world felt the first time it got an image of Earth from outer space?  Yes, this planet is beautiful!  But right now it's erupting, showing us some pimples and fractures, and points of change.

My question is simple: how can we go on ignoring them?  The earth is trying to tell us something about itself.  It's showing us something we all need to see: what our collective self looks like as it goes spinning through space.

We can either keep ignoring it, being so self-involved that we can pretend it doesn't matter.  Or we can pay attention to the signs.

And some stop being so self-indulgent.

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