If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
(A classic Zen koan is, Show me your original face, the face that you had before you were born. Sometimes framed as, the face that you had before your father and mother were born. Have you ever seen your original face? To glimpse it, I imagine, might be like coming home. )
If I was taking that koan literally, I’d just head to Ancestry.com where I’d find permutations of my face as far back as the first photograph, but if I’m reading it as the first face, the original human face, then I think recognizing it would indeed be like a homecoming where at first no one looks familiar and then you look closely and see your eyes on one, your nose on another and suddenly everyone looks like you.
Very interesting, Pauline. I have no Ancestry.com for permutations of my face, never have — so that never occurred to me about the koan. (I always got stymied about 30 seconds into the mission.)
But your second thought is fascinating — and so beautifully expressed. Well, that’s no surprise!
Or you look like everyone. I prefer that POV; I can get way too myopic and self-centered much too easily otherwise. 😉
Somehow I really doubt that about you; but humility is a sadly neglected virtue, so carry on!
Actually, whichever direction you approach it from, you arrive at the place of sisterhood/brotherhood, our shared humanity.
True; both paths lead to the same end. For me, though, I need to keep that sense of others-before-self top of mind; I’m working on learning (and more importantly, internalizing and living humility); but old habits can die hard. Still, I am making progress; and it’s about progress, not perfection…
You remind me of one of my favorite stories: in the Middle East among the rug weavers, traditional weavers always leave the final knot unknotted when they finish the rug. Because? Perfection belongs only to God.
Oh wow – I *love* that! I’m storing that deep within.