27th Sunday Ordinary Time – Who’s in the Mirror?

Norman Rockwell self portrait

In my celibate and humble opinion, here’s the issue with divorces that happen at any and every scale – between a married couple, siblings in a family, within a church congregation, between founders of some corporation, within a country or within a world, and so on – “Whom will I allow me to see? Whom will I allow you to see?”

This Triple-Self-Portrait by that grand illustrator, Norman Rockwell, has intrigued me for decades. We don’t see his face except as it’s reflected in the mirror. He looks insecure, limp, weak-jawed, afraid, and without eyes to his soul. And he has no background, no history. There’s little we see to relate to.

He wishes us to see the man that he isn’t: secure, eyes open and engaging, vital, curious, welcoming, and confident. He’s heroic. Notice the exquisite helmet on top. 

Again, we don’t see his face. We see his back. We see the pictures of artists he wishes to be like – Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, and another. Those pics are in color. His sketches and his drawing so far is in black and white. (Why does he have a paint brush in his hand?) And what does all this have to do with divorce. 

I am coming to believe that relationships can become successful as you and I learn to be real with each other. As I get to see me more clearly, I may learn to accept myself with all my flaws and sins. As I get to see you more clearly, I may learn to accept you with all your faults and sins. 

There seems to be the distance of light years between Rockwell’s back, his reflection, and all that he projects on his canvas. How could he get to be real from where he sits? How can we get to be real from where we sit?

I divorce you because I see my faults mirrored in you, and vice versa, while I project the “good guy” I am. 

Christians on the left divorce Christians on the right because they see their faults mirrored in the other while they project their “good folks” image toward the world. 

Republicans on as far right as you wish to go divorce Democrats on the left as far as you wish to go because they see their faults mirrored in the other while they project their “good folks” image toward the world. 

Seems to me that I make you pay the price for not mirroring back to me both the ME I want you to see and you not agreeing with all MY expectations and demands. 

Hence, divorce. 

What does reconciliation look like? It’s me admitting my defects of character, seeking healing, and making amends for making you pay the price. 

Ouch.

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