Unveiled Faces

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Today I have finished reading Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis.  This book, unlike any other he has written…unlike any I have read by any other author, may just be his masterpiece.  It is a “Myth Retold”, the ancient myth of Cupid or Psyche, set in Greek times in a barbaric kingdom outside Greece.  Orual, an ugly princess made queen, is making her complaint against the Gods for injustice suffered at their hands during her youth.  She wears a veil to cover her ugliness throughout her entire queenship, and then at the end of her life is given the opportunity to read her complaint.  She appears before a the council without her veil, without any barrier to hide her from them.  When she goes to read, she finds that her long, drawn out story has been replaced by a short, older complaint, which she reads over and over until interrupted by the judge.  After a long silence, the judge speaks again:

“Are you answered?” he said.
“Yes,” said I.

And in the next chapter, she explains:

The Complaint was the answer.  To have heard myself making it was to be answered.  Lightly men talk of saying what they mean.  Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”  A glib saying.  When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words.  I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer.  Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

Of course I have done a great injustice to the book by extracting the thesis statement from the end of the book and posting it here.  I am not sure if I have ruined the book for you…you will have to read it and let me know.  The bit, though, brings a certain amount of light to 2 Corinthians, which I have been studying this week.  To be unveiled means honesty, and that can be frightening, especially when we have been keeping one thing hidden for so long that we didn’t even know it was there.  We move in 2 Corinthians from the veil and unveiled faces to the treasure which we have in jars of clay…more about honesty and the juxtaposition between the Glory of God and our incompleteness.  It is not by pretending to be a diamond vial that I will show best His glory, but if I am honest with myself about my clay-ness.  And even, proceeding to chapter 5, we see that all this honesty is not for some sort of emotional burlesque show, but for transformation from glory to glory as was mentioned in chapter 3.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 

2 Corinthians 5:4