Sunset on Nolan Lake

Sunday Psalm: Confessing the Deadly Sin of Seeing Life Like Narcissus

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Narcissism plagues us. Not only the famous cases we hear about in the news. But our infatuation with our own opinions and views of the world. If only everyone would see life–or the controversy of the day–like I do, then the troubled waters would calm, we think. All would be peace. This is not only narcissistic; it’s delusional. Today’s prayer is admitting that deadly sin of seeing life only through our own eyes.

In a glass dimly

God of Glory,

When we seek your face,

Crave your very countenance,

Like Narcissus we mistakenly search a mirror,

Explore our own eyes,

Cast about for you in our own likeness.

By grace you appear there.

Holy God,

But in our own faces we glimpse

An impoverished strand of you,

A solitary shard filtering through, 

One facet of a prism.

Reflection of trees

Yet no matter how impoverished,

We fall hopelessly in love

With our own skeletal thoughts

Our own myopic view.

We impose our way on others

As if them stemmed from you.

God of the universe,

When we seek your face,

Trouble the water;

Break the mirror; 

Throw wide the window; 

That we look away from our own distorted image

And instead see you

In other faces,

Ebony, walnut, peach.

Faces creased with care,

Scarred with injustice,

Polished with naiveté,

Masked with fear,

Flaccid with apathy.

Faces divergent in contrast,

And opposition.

Image of God

Holy Spirit:

Bring the colors lost in the corners

Of your artistic, diverse, and complex

Masterpiece of humanity

To the fore.

Arrest our gaze with the 

Brushstrokes unnoticed, un-admired, even disdained.

Grant us holy wonder as we seek your face,

Your splendor in other faces,

As different from our own

As Monet from Van Gough. 

“Most merciful God,

we confess that we have sinned against you

in thought, word, and deed,

by what we have done,

and by what we have left undone.”*

O God,

We have sinned against you

By not seeing Your image in people.

We recognize You in a sunset

But strain to appreciate You in human smile

Or harder yet, a tear.

And because of that, we harm others,

Or fail to love them with Your love.

God of Grace:

Hear now our individual prayers of confession.

Amen.

Saint Patrick's Chapel

Assurance of Pardon:

Psalm 32:5: Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Other reading that may help bring God’s image to the fore. In an Art Gallery of Pain: Loving the Shattered, Including Yourself, Facing Down the Malignant Cancer of Racism, Putting a Face on God: The Most Important Face You’ll Ever See

*Book of Common Prayer

4 thoughts on “Sunday Psalm: Confessing the Deadly Sin of Seeing Life Like Narcissus”

  1. Sandy Seckel

    Eugene—
    These photographs add so much to your wise message. Your ministry is a gift.

    I imagine you are following our teams’ battle for the Stanley Cup—hockey at its amazing best!

    Blessings to you & yours,
    Sandy

  2. Georgie Ann Kettig

    I think you are describing “our blindness”,… as “humans”, we can be limited to “the way things seem to be” for our own personal selves, especially based on our own personal experiences and feelings about them (i.e., our “subjectivity”),… we can become trapped in “I, me, my”,… how to “break through” that limited perspective into something larger/wider, more transcendent and more “objective”, and even “spiritual”, often takes not only wiser/informed learning and “guidance”, but the “humility to listen, and to be led”, as well,…

    we exist in a wider context than our own personal experience(s) and personal reactions to them can encompass,… rather than simply being “content” (and self-righteous, and angry and jealous and resentful) to “see things through our own eyes”, we can be delivered from this “constricting prison” (that is smaller, self-centered, and more inhibiting than we realize), and begin to learn to “see things through God’s eyes”,… it’s “a big world out there”, with many delivering and transcendent “treasures” waiting to be discovered,…

    John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    1. Yes, we are trapped in ourselves. Confessing that to God and others is the first step out of that blindness. The truth, the forgiveness of Jesus, will set us free.

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