Soon We Shall See Face to Face

“Now we see through a glass, but soon face to face.”

That’s ye olden King James version of a Bible verse I first heard as a child in church. Modern translations say something like “Now we see through a mirror dimly; soon we shall see face to face.”

Subject to interpretation

I remember listening to all manner of interpretations of this passage—things having to do with mirrors being reflective metal back then so things didn’t look clear. Or something having to do with our inadequate human-ness that only Jesus could clear up for us. Or that it was a metaphor about what we know on earth compared to what we’ll know when we get to heaven.

(One Sunday-school-mate said she would have a notebook and pen ready when she got to heaven because she had so many questions. I understood that, but I felt like ‘Why wait?’ except that Sunday School just didn’t seem like the place to ask.)

I don’t know what I thought of all those explanations when I was a kid, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And nowadays I’m leaning in the metaphor direction.

As for religion itself (whether the Christian religion I grew up with or any other religion), I’ve pretty much gone off-road, though to be clear, I haven’t abandoned the road altogether. It’s a lot like my politics nowadays—I’m not signed up (or signing up) for any one viewpoint, I’m not allegiant to a dogma, and I’m also not throwing out any dogmas under the assumption that they offer nothing because they contain some things I don’t agree with or adhere to or like.

Everything is fraught, so let’s stop letting that hold us back

I’m open to learning from my own religious—and political—upbringing and my earlier-in-life experiences with both.

I don’t feel obliged to haul them with me.

Being curious and open to learning doesn’t mean I’m locked into or endorsing the fraught history of Christianity or anything else.

Because it turns out, everything is fraught.

But the thing is, ancient teachings and writings, including Jewish and Christian texts, contain wisdom, in spite of their fraught-ness. Just like us humans. Hmmmm.

(Some would argue that they contain wisdom “because of their fraught-ness,” but I digress.)

I’ve been grooving on this for decades

It’s just that I love this haunting, promising, soothing passage.

Now we see through a mirror dimly; soon we shall see face to face.

I really, really groove on this one.

It not only suggests that “there’s more,” it says so outright. Of course, no one has to believe this. Or even care.

But I do. I really like it.

And I’ve been thinking about it for decades.

Perhaps seeing clearly and face to face is only a matter of our capacity to do so?

In my reading, podcast-listening, audio book-listening, YouTube-watching, and just plain ol’ contemplation, and in making space for my greater self (not just my brain), this came to me:

What if we already have available to us everything there ever is to know, see, and experience?

What if the reasons we don’t know, see, and experience it all is that we simply don’t have the capacity just yet?

Perhaps this is why people experience different levels of consciousness, even to the point of enlightenment for some, but not for everyone… yet.

Perhaps this is a way to explain why some people are extraordinarily spiritual, some are making their way along, and some aren’t even interested in spirituality… and then there’s every nuance of spirituality along the way.

Perhaps this is a way to explain why people understand our day-to-day world in different ways and on different levels.

Maybe the people who don’t “get” what you or I “get” about politics or religion or society or human nature—or all of it—are no more and no less than we are.

Maybe the mirror is flexible. Maybe seeing dimly and clearly are relative concepts.

What if there’s nothing wrong?

What if there’s nothing wrong with people whose opinions we abhor? What if there’s nothing wrong with people we don’t respect or like, or even have extreme and strong oppositional feelings towards?

What if the people whose opinions we admire, whose points of view mesh with ours, who we feel are extra-good humans are, in actuality, not better than the people we find reprehensible?

What if there is no terrible-person to terrific-person scale for grading humans? What if we made that up?

What if the Great Spirit or the Good Lord or All That Is or The Source of it All or The Great I Am remains silent when we demand divine affirmation from them/her/him to agree with us?

What if what’s really happening is that we’re all journeying along toward the same end? And that the paths are as myriad as the humans journeying along them?

What if none of us have it “right”? What if there is no “right” to get to? What if “getting it right” isn’t the point at all?

What if our damned-and-determined-ness to sort ourselves and rank the quality and value of one another’s life journey is entirely off-course?

What if the spiritual teacher Ram Dass was onto something when he said, “We’re all just walking each other home?”

Could it be that simple?

What if seeing more and more “face to face” is all we’re working on?

What if that’s what we’re collectively and individually doing here?

What if the human voyage itself is the path to human awakening, to seeing face to face with the divine?

Could it be that simple?

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