In the course of your lifetime you many have several different faces, i.e.ways of presenting yourself visibly to the rest of the world. The same basic ‘look’ will always be there, meaning your inherent identity and value will remain the same regardless of how you feel. You may wear several masks to sort of ‘try on’ a face to see if it fits. When seasons change and circumstances rock your world in some way, there is a sense of ‘losing face’ that often occurs, eroding our confidence and security, making us feel. In my perspective, we are all trying to navigate life and preserve our dignity, our sense of value and to somehow lay hold of the kind of hope that never dies – hope that floats and will keep us afloat.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book called “Til We Have Faces”, not as well known as some of h is writings, but a very profound book nonetheless. It is his attempt to rewrite the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, which takes a look at all the different types of ‘love’ and makes many observations about which is superior to all the rest.
After reading the book and letting it settle a few years, I came back to it and internalized some of the poignant phrases contained in it. Here is a quote that jumped out at me the first time I read it. It is spoken by one of the main characters,
simply called “The Fox”, who is an exile from his native country and has served most of his life serving in the court of a foreign king. He is a very wise advisor and instructor for the king’s daughters. He says this, “No man can be in exile if he remembers that all the world is one city and everything is as good or bad as our opinion makes it.”
As I think a bit about the source of this statement, I begin to see a powerful truth that has formed in this man’s life in the midst of enormous change and disruption. You can imagine what it must have been like to have been taken forcibly out of your culture to spend the rest of your life speaking a foreign language, adapting to a new land. He was always aware of his heritage and aware that the land he was now living in was not his own .
I apply that to my own life and think of all the ways that change, disruption and difficulty have ‘rattled my cage’ and forced me to adapt in ways I wouldn’t have chosen. Each time you are shaken in this way, you can choose to react and resist or to accept and adapt. Each time you go through a big change, you have to ‘find a new face’ so to speak.