A mirror gives new perspective on how we see things.
We have an old mirror, sitting on a chest of drawers in our bedroom. It was found in a charity shop and appears to be very old. The oval swivel mirror is hung from an ornate mahogany frame, honestly it looks like it belongs on a set of Beauty and Beast! Looking for similar mirrors on eBay, it seems the mirror could date from the early 19th century, the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
The mirror has fine beveled edges which reflect the light differently to the main glass, and this again is an indicator of its age.
I was sitting watching the sunlight play on the mirror and it struck me that the mirror cannot show me the whole room, only a small part of it. And what the mirror reflects is dependent on how the mirror is angled, and it is my choice as to how I move and tilt the mirror, so that I see what I want to, in the best light possible.
Paul reminds the Corinthian church that we see only as through a glass darkly. Mirrors in the 1st century were not made of glass, but highly polished bronze which could dull over time. Even so, a 1st century mirror would only show what the user wanted it to show.
It struck me that this is important when we read scriptures. We always bring our own experience and previous understandings to a text. This means that it is often easy to read scriptures from our own perspective, wanting to see in the text what we want to see, rather than allowing the text to challenge and change us. Brian McLaren talks of the bible not necessarily being descriptive of God, but of our gradual and changing understanding of who God is. For instance, Naaman thought that he could only worship God on the soil of Israel, hence he took some home in a bucket. It was only when Israel was exiled that they discovered that God was not confined to the temple or Jerusalem and walked with them even in exile. In Christ we see that God is no longer understood in terms of the violent one who constantly acts in judgement but is the self-emptying God of love in Christ Jesus.
All this serves to remind me that just as I need to tilt and move my mirror to gain different perspectives, we need to allow ourselves to read scriptures and listen to God’s voice from different perspectives, allowing ourselves to be challenged and changed as the Holy Spirit reveals new truths from the written word. Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, we always like to have the mirror reflect our best side, not our blemishes and wrinkles. But it is only through allowing the Word to shine a light on who we really are, we can allow the Holy Spirit to bring change and healing.
Of course, old mirrors need care, and cleaning…so where is the duster?