Weekly Reflection, Sunday, September 20, 2020
By: Sam Bruce
I am not a very reflective person. I don’t fret about what could have been, nor do I attribute some mystical insight on looking back. Events in my past or in my current vision are points in time. Many I remember as inspirational, and a few have required repentance; but, I can’t go back and change what was said or what was done. I don’t like reflecting on the past because it can’t be changed. But, I can learn from it and address what or who I am in the future. Unfortunately, I can’t know what will happen in the future or generally change it; rarely is a redo possible. I think the best thing to do is to seize the moment!
I’d like to be a bit more literal on the idea of reflection. Do you remember the stories of Echo and Narcissus? Echo is cursed to only repeat whatever she last heard. She becomes frustrated and saddened in her fruitless love for Narcissus. Overwhelmed with self-pity and longing, she hides in a cave and withers away. Narcissus, after seeing his reflection, is compelled to stay there for the rest of his life until he starves and dies. In the end, Narcissus is transformed into a flower representing beauty without vanity. The moral is that excessive pride, self-love, and vanity lead to bad things. This is not to say that a reflection is vain or prideful. The danger lies in getting stuck in the reflection. This can lead to paralysis as it did for Narcissus.
In Western religions we tend to reflect on the need for forgiveness; we are forgiven when we reflect on and accept God’s grace. In Eastern philosophies we are taught to see nothing in the reflection; in this nothingness is everything. In both Eastern and Western philosophies we reflect on this “everything” as Love, Compassion, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness. God is reflected in everything: the snake, squirrel, bird, stone, water, snow, wind, child; a cool night, a hot day, a joyful encounter, a sad goodbye, the stars in the heavens; you, and yes, me. Unlike Narcissus, I am able to move on. But what do I see when I look at my reflection? Is that me or is that God; is it nothing or is it everything?
When we see our reflection in the mirror, what do we see? Pride, vanity, envy, self-love, and even jealousy? Do we get stuck in our reflections, or do we see God in them? Honestly, the question is not complicated. In some ways it’s the simplest question of all. If we see God in everything, as I do, then our reflections should be filled with Love, Compassion, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness—the Narcissus flower. When you look into a mirror, I hope that’s what you see. If so, then when I look at you and you look at me, we are looking at the same thing. It is this reflection that is nothingness and every-thingness. To see God in everything is not difficult at all. Look around you at the kaleidoscope of God’s reflections!