You cannot see my face, for no one may see my face and live. ~God, Exodus 33:20
I have seen the face of God hundreds of times and live to tell the tale.
This passage has been interpreted over the years as meaning to see the face of God results in physical death. My interpretation runs along a parallel yet distinct path. Seeing the face of God results not in the death of the physical body but in the death of the self-centered self. Seeing the face of God results in an awe so powerful one chooses to shed the ego like a dead skin. Choosing to see the face of God requires sacrificing the person I am – to be reborn with new eyes, new attitude, new heart, new love to see all the faces of God surrounding me.
I have seen the face of God more times than I can count, fewer times than I need to. With conscious effort, I can see the face of God at will, my will. Sadly, too often, my own blindness prevents me from seeing the face of God even when it’s staring directly at me, peering straight into me. Each time I see the face of God, I change for the better.
To love another person is to see the face of God. ~Victor Hugo
The first three times I remember seeing the face of God were the first moments I looked into my children’s newborn faces and saw eternity in their eyes. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love, of a willingness to sacrifice my own life that they may live. This was spontaneously seeing the face of God. I didn’t go out looking for the face. It was thrust upon me during a time I was uncertain there was a God other than the god I was to myself. Those tiny faces began the process of chiseling the edges from my stony heart.
Generally, it is in the eyes of children I am most aware God is seated in front of me. Their innocence pierces my preconceived realities enabling me to see transparent reality. Seeing the eyes of God in a newborn child is relatively easy. It’s more difficult to not see God in a child’s eyes.
It takes a great deal more effort to see the face of god in a belligerent teenager, an amoral adult sex trafficking minors to feed the hole in their soul, a corrupt politician sacrificing the voters needs to gain power and influence, a CEO raising the prices on necessary medicine far beyond production costs to fatten her pockets, a vagrant with floppy shoes and torn coat shuffling down a street of high-end stores looking for handouts, the schizophrenic woman wandering the streets shouting obscenities at anyone crossing her path, or the nameless, everyday masses struggling through life weighed down by burdens we will never understand. Yet, each is a vessel adorned with the face of God…if we choose to see beyond the exterior shell.
Once you have seen the face of God, you see the same face in everyone you meet. ~Ming Dao Deng
Every one of the wretched started life as a child, an innocent child, a child in which the face of God radiated drawing smiles from onlookers. That was the start of their story, a story with life events wounding them in ways we can’t imagine. All peoples are fighting a battle the rest know nothing about. We all bear invisible battle scars influencing our every move.
If we understand this, approach all humans with compassion, we can begin to see God in their faces. This does not mean we condone their actions. It means we look for the face of God in theirs and reflect back to them the face of God in ours. Then, perhaps, they will find they can see the face of God in themselves and begin their own healing process.