After putting off the task for far too long (and after hearing some scary stories told by my boss), I finally got around to renewing my driving licence. It arrived this morning.
The problem boiled down to getting a decent current photo of myself. I am not photogenic. It’s not that I don’t have any pretty genes in my DNA – they are inside pretty as opposed to outside pretty. The outside pretty ones were not fairly distributed among the siblings. What few I possess seem to go AWOL when someone produces a camera.
New rules have also been introduced for photos for passports and other identity cards
You’re not allowed to smile in the picture. Without my smile I really do look grim. I look like some dragon you hope never to have to meet.
You’re not allowed to wear glasses! This creates for me a practical problem – I can’t see myself clearly enough to know if I am actually there at all. There is a vague fuzzy blob but I don’t know if I am centred enough. These people are very fussy about the empty space at the top and sides and whether your eyes are in line with the red guide lines. I CAN’T see the red guide lines! I can only guess! They gave you three attempts in the booth to get it right!
Without my glasses I cannot see the wrinkles under the eyes. The camera can!
The end product did not match my own preconceived idea of what I thought I looked like. I look much older and angrier without a smile and my glasses. Every skin blemish was there to see. I looked like one of my older sisters. It was kind of nice to see her looking back at me – although she wasn’t smiling either.
The picture was like a naked version of my face. Gone were all the cover-ups – the smiles and the glasses. My “disguise” was gone. I had a good look at my eyes trying to glimpse the soul through the window that people insist is there. I looked confused and bewildered mostly because I wasn’t sure I was doing it right. There was also a tinge of hostility because I didn’t want to have a photo taken at all.
There is a poem I have been mulling on - “Lent” by Jean M Watt. The opening line is “Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf” and a later line reads “Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare”. She makes a comparison between a Christmas tree with all the trimmings and a tree in winter just before the arrival of spring. What we see is not just the bare shape of the tree, its trunk and branches. It’s the things we see through it, like the stars. The leaves are not there to obscure. The blossom isn’t there to distract our eyes. We can look through the empty branches to see something else.
Leaves and blossom hide the blemishes on the branches of trees just as the glasses and the smile conceal a lot of my imperfections. How hard it is for us to allow ourselves to stand before others without all the disguises we wear. Sometimes it takes a gentle stripping away of the leaves and the blossoms that obscure and distract to enable people to see God more clearly in us and through us.
That is why people were so drawn to Jesus. He allowed people to see God in and through Him. They liked what they saw.