Till We Have Faces is a novel by C.S. Lewis which is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It is a title that has new meaning since we have been isolated in a pandemic for over a year now, and covering our faces in public all this time. I have not read the book, but I have its title coming to mind a lot these days as I have grown frustrated with only seeing half of a person’s face. And when I see someone’s eyes only, I can’t help but think about that time when we will all have faces again.
I find it especially exasperating with people I don’t know. Someone I know, I can imagine the rest of their face, but someone I don’t know, I haven’t a clue what they look like and it doesn’t seem fair that I don’t get to see the full expression of a person’s personality. I’ve been amazed at how much of a person’s personality is in the bottom half of their face — the lips, the smile, the teeth, the dimples, the sparkle are all in the lower half of the face, or at least it all works together with the eyes. When I was in the hospital a couple of months ago, there was one nurse that was such a hoot, I almost asked her to take off her mask for a minute just so I could see her face, because she had such an animating personality, but that felt a little too much like asking someone to undress for me.
How long will it be until we all have faces again? Will we ever? In the meantime, we have to live with what we have. You know, when you think about it, we are all handicapped to a certain extent, because, even when we can see faces, we don’t really see. We are limited in what we can see and know of a person, even someone we spend our whole life with. The Bible says we look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Who can know the heart of a man or woman but God? Even the face doesn’t tell the whole story.
But one day, we will see clearly as God sees. “For now we see only a reflection as 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” (1 Corinthians 13:12). To know, as we are fully known, is to know as only God knows. That’s going to be some face-to-face to experience!
Until then, however, we take what we can get. We appreciate the eyes of strangers. We empathize with those who cannot see at all, whose whole faces are fully masked due to blindness — something gone terribly wrong in the world, which God, thankfully, is in the process of righting. And we look for the day when we all can see what God sees — till we have faces like like the face of Jesus.