Last weekend, my family took the time to watch the Tom Hanks’ movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The movie is about the encounters between the popular children’s show host Fred Rogers and the magazine journalist Lloyd Vogel, who was assigned to interview Mr. Rogers. Those encounters ended up being opportunities for Fred Rogers to help Lloyd heal an old wound. Prior to watching the movie, I did not have much expectation on the movie, and simply looked forward to a relaxing evening. However, I was pleasantly surprised at one scene in the movie. During the scene, Lloyd, troubled by his father’s hospitalization, looked for Fred Rogers. Fred took Lloyd to a diner and asked him to join him for a minute of silence, to think about the people in their lives who helped shape them to become who they are now. Mr. Rogers assured him that the faces of those people would come to mind.
Sure enough, I took the opportunity to try the exercise…and many unexpected faces floated into my mind. For sure, I saw the faces of many family members, teachers, and close friends. However, there were also faces of the odd acquaintances, whom I realized only at that moment, who had starring roles in my life. Some of them went through events of their own and I found their reactions to those events admirable. Others had randomly made a comment to me or asked me a question at some point that greatly impacted me. All those people in my mind cannot be more different from one another. They have different personalities, belong to a wide range of age groups, and they have different cultural backgrounds and beliefs. However, it was clear to me towards the end of the exercise that all of them played a role in shaping me.
We often read about seeing “the face of God” in the Bible as knowing God. We are often reminded to see the face of God in others when we serve them. However, it seems that God also seek us and shape us through others! There are no random happenings in life and Jeremiah reminded us of that. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…” (Jer 29:11) The people in our lives who shaped us, including acquaintances, are divine instruments, and their words and actions were sent our way as we need them.
Well, when do you think you last saw the face of God?
Just be silent for one minute and think about the people who came into your life and helped shape you. The many faces of God will float in your mind.