Face Recognition

I’ve just been listening to a fascinating podcast put out by Radiolab titled ‘Strangers in the Mirror.’ In this podcast, two men are interviewed who have a condition known as ‘Face Blindness’; neither Oliver or Chuck can recall any person with whom they have been conversing. In fact, they forget and cannot recognize their own faces! One of them tells the story of having a conversation with another person only to realize the synchronous movements meant he was talking to himself in a mirror. Another story told is of the man preening his own beard only to realize the non-synchronous movements revealed he was preening another man’s beard!

I am on the other end of the scale. I tend to remember people’s faces for years, and have often been in a situation where I meet someone months or years later and have this recollection of meeting, and within a few minutes have sussed where we met and the circumstances of that meeting. What is more troublesome, for me, is that I am so visual in a first meeting with someone that I lock away an image of their face but have no clue of their name when we conclude the conversation!

There iIMG_3482s a famous blessing in the book of Numbers in the Old Testament of the Bible that goes like this: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. There is another in the second letter to the Corinthian church: For now we see only a reflection in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Language of ‘the face’ and recognizing facial expressions are so much part of the human experience! And it’s also a way of speaking to one’s interaction with God. I remember moments when my sister, who is deaf, would turn away from my dad so she couldn’t see his face to read his lips or demeanor. It’s the same when someone puts up their hand and says ‘talk to the hand ‘cause the face doesn’t wanna know.’ There is something profound and intimate in a ‘face to face’ interaction, and I’m not speaking of lip-locking action! I’m speaking of the mutual gaze into another’s heart and the communion of communication that goes beyond words.

I hope you will bless someone with that kind of care and love today. It is as divine as God blessing you or me with his posture, his face toward you giving you deep serenity and the confidence to face whatever circumstances come your way today.

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