Place yourself before the mirror, look upon the mirror of perfect love each day… St. Clare of Assisi
Father Richard Rhor says of this quote, that St. Clare understood that spiritual gifts are always reflected gifts. But what exactly does that mean?
Looking Glass Self
There is a sociological notion, called the looking-glass self theory. Briefly it states that we come to understand who we are and what we are like as others reflect back to us their views of who we are.
Feelings of Inferiority
For many years I was consumed by feelings of inferiority and not being good enough. You could say that I was not comfortable in my skin. If the looking-glass self is true, I developed those ideas of myself early in life based upon my interpretation of what others reflected to me. But of course I now know that these reflected views were, in a large part, themselves based in the pain and inadequacy that others carried about themselves.
Sister Clare offers some grace-filled advice. The mirror she looks upon is divine. This mirror reflects a true and perfect nature—not the imperfect nature we’ve come to identify as our own.
After marrying a woman who tells me how much she appreciates me, I began to develop a sense of wholeness. The mirror she held before me reflected a view that You are good, you are enough! Slowly, my feelings of inadequacy were replaced by feelings of I am good, I am enough!
Which mirror shall we choose?
But which mirror was the more accurate—the one I was raised with or my wife’s? I have decided that what one sees is very much dependent upon which mirror they choose to look upon. Negative people reflect negativity. Positive people reflect positivity.
St. Clare’s Mirror
St. Clare’s mirror reflects perfection. St. Clare’s mirror does not reflect the outwardly aging man, it reflects an eternal being. Her mirror does not reflect a person who does not know his own worth, it reflects a beloved son of God. Her mirror does not reflect my inner conflicted ideas, it reflects a curious and creative mind. St. Claire’s mirror reflects the beauty that God sees in us.
In the second half of life it becomes even more important to choose one’s mirror very carefully. The truth is I was always enough. My problem was that I could not realize or accept it. Like the Wizard of Oz, the cowardly lion always had courage. The strawman always had brains. Look upon the mirror of perfect love and learn who you really are.
- Richard Rhor, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.