In the movie, Shall We Dance, John Clark (Richard Gere) is looking for something more exciting than the life he is living, and he soon finds himself learning to dance with a beautiful dance instructor (Jennifer Lopez), whose studio he spotted on his daily commute. After realizing something was amiss in their marriage, his wife, Beverly (Susan Sarandon) has hired a private investigator because she thinks her husband is having an affair.
It is at that point in the movie where Beverly is meeting with Devine, the private investigator played by Richard Jenkins, to find out information about her husband, and she asks him a question: “All these promises that we make and we break. Why is it, do you think, that people get married?”
He immediately responds, “Passion.” She smiles and says, “No.” He then says, “It’s interesting because I would have taken you for a romantic. Why then?”
Beverly’s response here is the key point:
Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet … I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things … all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.'”
It’s finally about seeing and being seen at the deepest, most authentic level. In a previous post, I shared about what it means to be a witness, but here I want to take a slightly different turn to talk about what that kind of witnessing is all about.
It is about mirroring.
One of the greatest, yet least utilized, gifts of our Judeo-Christian roots is that we have story after story about how God mirrors the authentic us back to us … who knows every part of us and who loves us and calls us by name … and who then asks us to mirror that same authentic reality back to everyone we meet, whether in our family, in our community, or in our world … whether they are people whom we know intimately or people whom we would call “our enemies.”
Psalm 139 is the most poetic rendering of how God searches us and knows us … who is with us as we journey, and when we lie down for sleep … who knows every word coming off of our tongue … who hems us in behind and before … above, beneath, and beside us. It is this God who formed our inward parts and who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. As children of God, we are called to fully know just as we have been fully known.
That is what mirroring is all about.
As a credentialed coach with certifications as an End of Life Coach and as a Discipleship Coach, I have learned through the years that the most important thing I can do as a coach is to mirror the image of God I see in others. In discipleship, it is to empower people to see the Christ within them and enhance their journey to more powerfully mirroring Christ in this world. In death and grief, it is to let the Christ in us connect with the Christ in others that we might share the power of resurrection, which awaits us on the other side of brokenness, death, despair, and grief. This is my calling in ministry and an essential tool in coaching.
I have often quoted Father Henri Nouwen as he describes, in his book Reaching Out, a conversation he was having with a former student when, after a few moments of silence, the former student said, “Father Nouwen, I see Christ in you.” Nouwen responded, “It is the Christ in you who sees the Christ in me, and when we see Christ in one another, the ground between us becomes holy ground.”
Isn’t that what it means to mirror? Father Richard Rohr speaks about mirroring in The Universal Christ as he describes how the Christ in Jesus sees the Christ in all things and has compassion and love for the other because, when seen from this new perspective, there is no “other,” at all. When we see ourselves literally as the Body of Christ, it is Christ loving Christ’s self in us and in all things.
So where does this lead us? I’m thinking it speaks into our current realities where we are experiencing so many adversities and so much harm. Whether we experience harm and brokenness through the pandemic, bigotry, overt acts of racism, acts of violence or the overt destruction of the planet itself, the deepest indictment of humanity is our failure to see the divine DNA in everything and everyone God created.
And yet …
God cannot stop seeing the divine DNA … the mark of the Christ … in you and me. Even in this moment, God is wooing us and calling each of us by name. God sees you. God sees me. Just as we are!
So my journey is that of the seer. Not the doer of magic. The seer is the one who sees. In every encounter of every day, I look to see Christ and to mirror that Christ back to the one who is seen. It is to say deliberately that “your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”
And when we find ourselves mirroring the image of the divine … this Christ … in the ebb and flow of life … amidst the brokenness and the healing and death and resurrection … we might just discover that the ground on which we are standing is holy!