Broken Mirrors


A mirror is a funny thing if you think about it. It is a truth teller that can make you upset with yourself or feel good about things. If you spend too much time looking into a mirror we call you vain; if you spend no time looking into a mirror we call you foolish. It’s as Walter Wangerin said, “Mirrors that hide nothing hurt me. They reveal an ugliness I’d rather deny.”

Spiritually we get a glimpse of ourselves anytime we spend time alone with God and allow our true self, our true motives, to be revealed. And I know for me, this is usually a painful process. So rather than subjecting myself to that type of pain, I foolishly avoid the mirror altogether. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have a look at ourselves in the mirror.” Now, with the invention of smartphones and laptop computers, we don’t even have to go to “events” to successfully avoid spending alone time with God.

Mirrors played an important role on last night’s episode of LOST called “Lighthouse.” Jack found himself looking into a mirror three different times throughout the episode. One was in the sideways reality where he noticed scars from an appendectomy which seemed to be a fuzzy memory to him. We all have these scars that seem important and look like they were painful, yet we don’t remember exactly how we got them. The next time he looks into a mirror is when he stares into water and sees a dim reflection of his true self on the island. It is after this glimpse that he tells Hurley, “I came back here because I was broken…and I was stupid enough to think that this place could fix me.” The final mirror he looks into is perhaps the most important one. It was the mirrors at the top of the mystical lighthouse (assumingly created by Jacob) that reflected something different than just his face back to him. It showed his childhood home, the place that was responsible for his brokenness in the first place and the reason he came back to the island. Jack ended up doing to these three mirrors in the lighthouse what we do to our own personal mirrors that truly reflect our brokenness: he shattered them as he yelled, “What does he want from me.”

I liked Jeff Jensen’s insight on this mirror contraption. He wrote, “I think the episode wanted us to think it was some kind of mystical surveillance device. That’s certainly what Jack thought it was when he trashed the place. My theory? The Lighthouse doesn’t cast light outward — it shines light inward.” Anytime light exposes darkness, especially internal darkness, it is an excruciating and sorrowful process. And after Jack has his hissy fit of rage, he gets wise and retreats to silence and solitude to process his broken self. This, in a sense, is what Lent is about. It is about finding our true identity in Christ, being a pure reflection of him. But before this can happen, we must bring our empty, broken, compulsive selves to God, our mirror. Will you have enough courage to look into the mirror, even if these means exposing all of your scars, and allow God to begin to use this Lenten journey to form you into His image as a child of the King?

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