Seeking God’s face reminds me of finding the hidden image within pictures like this tiger. Some see the hidden image easily, others work hard at it before spying it. Some never see it and give up.
I’ve looked at enough of these hidden face images over the years to know that to find what’s hidden, I have to stop looking for it and almost de-focus my eyes from whatever the dominant image is. Only then does the hidden image become clear to me. When I strain to see it, the hidden image remains undetected.
“The hidden face is nothing compared to that gorgeous tiger,” one of my friends told me.
I think that’s part of the challenge of this particular image. The tiger is gorgeous. That’s all I wanted to see. Perhaps therein lies the lesson: we have to be willing to take our eyes from what we enjoy looking at, where we find pleasure and beauty, in order to be able to see others right before our eyes.
In order to serve our neighbors and love them as Jesus taught us (see Matthew 22:39) we must first “see” them. We must be seeking God’s face among one another. This simple hidden image exercise is a lesson in how the poor, the immigrants, the abused, the elderly, the handicapped, the sick, and the homeless remain invisible in society. We glance away, we skip the news stories about them, we ignore the bruises or the person in the wheelchair. We choose not to look under the viaducts or bushes to see the homeless or buy them a fast food meal.
We look but we don’t see. God remains unseen by us, too. We don’t want to take our eyes off the things of this earth long enough to see Him in His creation and in one another. Although Jesus said “I am with your always,” we constantly complain that we can’t see Him. “How do we know He’s there?” we ask. Are we really looking?
When I listen to the gospel readings at Mass, I often think, How like the Jews in Jesus’ time we often behave. Jesus stood before them daily, worked countless miracles before their eyes, gave them endless descriptions of His Father and heaven, but they wanted to see the tiger – in their case, an image of Messiah they imagined in their minds who looked and acted nothing like Jesus – and therefore, couldn’t see beyond Jesus’ skin, beyond His earthly mother and foster father.
They couldn’t see Him for who He is.
My Mother and Tigers
My mother loved tigers. She had several pictures of them by her desk and on her fridge. We’d go to Out of Africa Wildlife Park near her home in Arizona so she could sit and watch their mesmerizing faces and powerful paws pad along the side of their fenced habitat.
When I first looked for the image of the hidden face in this tiger image, I didn’t want to pull my eyes very far away from the tiger’s face. I searched for something small in the fur above his eyes. As my eyes searched, the knowledge that my mother loved this creature triggered emotions. Memories flipped across my mind’s eye.
We look but we don’t see sometimes because we’re thinking of other things. Electronic images and sounds work like the tiger to distract us from being present in the now of this moment, from seeing someone who perhaps needs our help and doesn’t know how to ask for it.
Sounds and digital images also work to block us from noticing the Presence of God in this moment.
In every moment.
The love of the One who made us pads powerfully beside us as Advocate, brother, and our daily bread.
Seeking God’s Face is an Active Way of Praying.
When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 NKJV
Once you see the face in the image of the tiger, it’s hard to keep your eyes off it.
I’ve concluded it’s the same when the Holy Spirit bestows His grace upon us when we are seeking God’s face. It’s hard to keep our eyes off God when He opens our eyes to see Him hidden everywhere.
So I’ve learned that as scary as it feels, God wants us to open our heart to Him. When we do, the transformation we read about in the gospels takes place. Suddenly, it’s easy to see Him everywhere.
His image is no longer hidden from our eyes.
I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.
Proverbs 8:17-19 NKJV