Some years ago whilst visiting family in Wyoming, I was browsing one those shops filled with many items aimed at the present-giving, souvenir customer. Not that, I hasten to add, all quality goods which the Americans excel at. Looking through some smallish tapestry cushions primarily designed for display I came across one which made me chuckle. It read ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all’. It is often said that if a young man wants to know what his prospective wife will look be like in later years he should just look at her mother.
Doubtless that might sometimes be true, although that is often not the case at all. I remember an aunt saying to me on one occasion that it was interesting that although I was one of a number of siblings we were all different. I also had a great aunt who, much to her dismay and annoyance, had red hair; nobody else in the family had red hair. It was obviously a throw back somewhere along the genetic heritage. Talking of genetic heritage, I researched my father’s side of my ancestry. I did the hard way before it could all be done online. Looking up the surname there was the suggestion that our ancestors had come over to England from France, possibly at the time at the time of William the Conqueror. Some months ago I decided to have my DNA analysed to establish my origins. What came back was really interesting, predominantly Scandivian, part British/Irish (Aunt Win’s red hair) small bit of Ashkenaze Jew and a small bit of West Asian but absolutely not a drop of French blood! A slight readjustment of self identity required but I do not think it has changed the person I see in the mirror, or has it? I am not the person I thought I was, in some respects.
So why do we look in the mirror? Do we like what we see? What do we see? I know if I am having a ‘bad hair day’ then perhaps it would be better not to look. Of course, I know the answer to my questions but when you consider it, it really does not tell very much at all that is meaningful – perhaps an exception might be the ability to see whether or not you have got your skirt tucked into your knickers! Mirrors can lie too, the ones in changing rooms are particularly unforgiving which maybe the type of lighting in them. Think also of the comic fairground ones. Self image also shapes what we see for, sadly, those who suffer with anorexia see a fat person not the one that needs a jolly good meal.
There seems, to me, only one certainty; the person who looks back at us from the mirror is a child of God. A child who is loved by God no matter what, who will always be loved by Him and that is where our security is, the source of our existence,the marvellous creator God.