Today I was looking at a poster sale in the student centre on campus. I was looking at the different prints by various artists and began to think a bit about what it means to be known. One of the posters in particular stood out to me. It was a painting of the back of a woman’s head. Her hair was up, and her hands we around the back of her neck. It was really quite beautiful. Another poster was just a sketch of a woman. Very free hand, but also very beautiful. At first I imagined the artists who created these works. I imagined that they had seen beauty in these women and wanted to capture a piece of it, as to make it timeless. But then, I thought, how must have the artist’s subjects have felt? To be immortalized in some small fashion, to have some one examine every detail of you, as to not make any mistakes. I imagine as if they would have felt very honoured.
Now, I realize that just because someone paints a picture of you, or captures a beautiful moment on film does not make you “known”- but the more I began to think about this idea, the more it seemed true. We want people to see us for who we really are and to understand us at such a deep level that we don’t even have words to express it.
It’s funny that we go to such a great extent to express ourselves- to have ‘favourites’ – to spend a lot of time describing our interests, musical tastes and favourite quotes on things like facebook, that we feel hurt when we remember someone’s name, but they forget ours, that we want our opinion to be heard and respected in the classroom, that there is something so deep and beautiful about knowing the little idiosycracies of the ones we love, and that we delight when the those we love know all of the little details about us.
We are people that long to be known.
The Psalms tell us that God has searched us as and that he knows us (Ps 139:1)- yet David still cries out to God and says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Ps 139:23).
In a perfect world, there would be no longing to be known. I mean, I guess there wouldn’t be a longing for anything. There is a line in a Brooke Fraser song that I think is very beautiful that says,
“I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me.”
I like the idea that hope comes for us, but for the longest time, before I read the lyrics, I thought she was saying, “as I wait for hope to conform me.” I want this hope that I have- not only the hope that one day I will be truly known, but also hope that one day I will truly have eyes that can see others and that the world will be restored, and that love really will win- I want it to conform me now- I’m not even sure if I understand what it means for hope to conform me- but I like it. I want the hope I have for the future to change the way I see things today.
I think I have figured out that I will never be able to be known to the extent that I desire to- and I don’t think that you will ever be known the way you want to- not here anyway. And while I understand that God knows every single detail, our humanity and the world we’re in prevent us from having the perfect relationship with God that we so long for. But, Brooke Fraser’s lyrics remind me that hope exists for that very reason. Hope doesn’t exist in perfection, there is no need for it. But for now, while we wait and long to be known and understood- we hope.
I think that the bridge of Brooke Fraser’s song* so perfectly says what we are to do in the meantime:
We, we re not long here
Our time is but a breath
So we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live
I was made to love
I was made to know You
Hope is coming for me.
So, until the time comes when we hope no more, and we no longer need to find ways to show our souls to others, let’s hope in confidence. And lets have eyes that look for God and all his glory in every corner of our lives.
As per usual, my thoughts seem to be so jumbled. My apologies. I want to include a couple photographs that I have of people in my life who are so important and lovely to me- I feel as though sometimes, through art, we are able to capture just a little bit of a person’s beauty, mystery and value.
*painting at the top is by Salvador Dali
* C.S. Lewis Song, by Brooke Fraser