Facing Faces

God: “…but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:23c)

Jesus: “Whose head is this…?” (Matthew 22:20b)

Faces clattering as coins descend
to bounce and roll across the counter;
faces whispering as fingers count
the bills, exchanging paper for some goods.

Faces flicker on the screen, three up
and three across to form a game
or set the stage for stories, echoed now
in tiny screens within a telephone.

Faces sheltered in the swaddling cloth
of masks, reducing by some meaningful
amount the risk of illness and of death
to me , to you, to those we love.

Faces twisted now by scorn and rage,
by privilege and power and by pique,
faces streaked with tears as faces
lacking breath are given to the earth.

Faces sighing from exhausting toil,
faces bright with gratitude for love,
faces furrowed with confusion,
faces that conceal the hearts within.

Each day I face the faces, Holy One
(if just the one that gazes from the glass),
and every day I long for one bright face,
O God, the one I cannot see and live.

Some day.

Some day.

A poem/prayer based on Exodus 32:12-23, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading and Matthew 22:15-22, the Gospel Reading for Year A, Proper 24 (29).

The image is a denarius from the reign of Emperor Tiberius. Photographed by: York Museums Trust Staff – This file has been provided by York Museums Trust as part of a GLAMwiki partnership. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48143736.

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