One of the tasks that Helen and I set ourselves during the ‘lock down’ period was to go through all of the family photograph albums and packets of photos stored in our loft and to try and put them into some sort of order! We have inherited old black and white and sepia photographs from our parents and grandparents as well the more up to date coloured family snaps. Once we embarked on this task it soon became evident that this was going to take longer than we thought – why did we decide to do this was often our refrain!
However we found that the really old photographs were intriguing – did my great great grandparents really look like that? How fashions have changed and it was clearly de rigueur not to smile when your photograph was taken! Our childhood snaps are quite revealing and it is astonishing to see how growing up changes our looks as well as our waist lines.
Many of the really old photographs had no inscriptions on the back and we had no idea of the identity of the subject. Who was this elegant fellow? Was he my grandmother’s beau? In order to try and identify some of the family photos, we began comparing one likeness with another in order to pick out jaw shapes, eyes and noses that resembled some of the family members alive today.
This whole process started me thinking about who am I really like? In the musical Les Miserables, Jean Valjean asks the question “Who am I?” when he is confronted with his self deception. In a Christian context, the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians reminds the church that when Moses was in the presence of God on Mount Sinai his face shone (Exodus 34:29) and that Christians should “ reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transformed in ever-increasing splendour into his own image, and this is the work of the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18 (J.B. Phillips).
If we had the equivalent of a ‘spiritual camera’ what would we look like through its lens? Thankfully our Lord is always ready to press the delete button and begin again to transform us into his image by the Holy Spirit.