by Debbonnaire Kovacs
Moses’ face shone when he came out from talking with God. The story reads as if it were literally true, since they had him wear a veil, and that may well be so. Privately, I wonder if the “physical” (for lack of a better word) presence of God isn’t radioactive. Having created the atom, God would know how to protect fragile humans from that, and it would explain (somewhat) the idea that God’s presence is either deadly and lifegiving, depending on one’s state at the moment.
On the other hand, the metaphysical shining that comes from someone who spends time in close communion with The Holy also sometimes makes people uncomfortable. Maybe it was the love in Moses’ eyes they couldn’t bear. He did tend to get a bit crusty, didn’t he? Maybe they were more comfortable with that. . . But when he was with God he forgot how irritating they often were and remembered that they were God’s children and in some sense, his, too.
Not only Jesus’ face, but even his clothing shone on the mountain when he was transfigured (literally, changed looks). Then again, his face, the face of God, was already veiled in human flesh because we couldn’t bear it. Do humans cling to the picture of an angry, vengeful god because that’s more understandable (given what we know of our inward selves) and because the shocking, far-reaching Love is almost unbearably bright?
When we, as a race, turned away, we became unable to bear that Light. We created a veil, dozens of veils, hundreds of veils, and hid inside them. Jesus put on our veils and came inside to find us. We weren’t truly free until his veil of flesh was ripped apart.
That, too, is unbearable to look at. But if we do, if we hold our wavering, tear-soaked gaze on that Love, our faces get shiny. Some people don’t like it. All people need it.
Is your face shiny?