Friday, February 19, 2010


As I get older, mirrors seem to irritate me. Most of the time I avoid them. Sometimes their presence draws me in a magical sort of way, where I take some time to examine my face or body closely. On most of those occasions, I start the inevitable fault-finding; at other times, though, I try to keep my negative opinions out of the self conversation and instead approach my face with a kind of wonder. Who is this older lady, anyway? How many of those wrinkles came from worrying? How many from children? How many from worrying about children? How come makeup loses more of its efficacy with every birthday? How come hair leaves places it’s supposed to be and grows where it’s not supposed to be? It is too late for braces? No, Mr. DeMille, I’m certainly not ready for my close-up.

Mirrors aren’t pure evil, of course. They come in handy when you think you might have chocolate on your chin or broccoli in your teeth. They’ll confirm that you shouldn’t have applied lipstick while riding over a pothole-filled road or that you should have bought that waterproof mascara.

The picture above is Daddy holding me in front of a mirror that used to hang in our living room. I remember how special it felt when I was a little older and he would hoist me up to the mirror - something I couldn’t reach on my own at the time. Mirrors are fascinating objects to babies. Seeing yourself and others in a different way can be most entertaining. I think one of a parent’s first responsibilities is to introduce their children to mirrors and, ideally, to teach a child that the image she sees is a reflection of a person of value, deeply and unconditionally loved. My parents did pass this self-esteem lesson on to me, but alas, ensuing life experiences and the ubiquitous wounds of societal influence made considerable headway in tearing it down.

Ed says that prophetic preaching holds up mirrors to congregations - and for some, there’s no worse thing that can happen than looking in that spiritual mirror, for the image seen there can be quite distasteful. On the other hand, he says preachers tend to preach most vehemently about their own sins, so in essence, a preacher’s sermons are mirrors of shortcomings of the preacher’s own self, and a wise minister will take heed of that observation.

Every once in a while, a book or film will come along and function as a mirror for our society. Food, Inc is one of those films. The majority of this documentary is not pleasant to watch. It simultaneously vindicates, horrifies, nauseates, educates, and inspires. It gives us a mirror to watch how the food we eat is grown and made, processed, engineered, and in many cases genetically altered and in most cases unregulated as to its safety. It’s human nature to have no desire to see ourselves in a mirror such as this, but it is an important task, as this particular mirror has much to teach us. I highly recommend it. But wait until after you’ve eaten. It will spoil your dinner like no dessert ever could. If you like Food, Inc, you can go on and read Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Who needs Weight Watchers to lower your appetite? Just visit your neighborhood bookstore and start reading these best-sellers. I'll guarantee you that you will be smarter - and probably lose a few pounds in the bargain.

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