It is late afternoon in France under a crisp blue sky. I am covered head–to–toe in water and soap bubbles, a volunteer in the open-air kitchen. The sea of voices around me rises up like a symphony, instruments that I do not recognize, yet long to understand and know. I hear sounds of laughter and joy.
So much unrestrained laughter and joy . . .
There are faces that I recognize. I see a young woman and a young man who traveled with me to Taizé: Tom saw God’s face clearly for the first time as he looked into the painted face of the crucified Jesus icon in the community church. Hillary feels in her heart that she will never be the same person she was before this journey.
She, too, saw God’s face.
Then, there are faces that I do not know, but have seen before.
When I was young, I used to pour over my grandmother’s copies of National Geographic magazine. I would look for hours at the pictures of the black . . . nearly blue-black faces … of strikingly beautiful African men and women. As I gaze across the way, I see her again. It is as if the picture in the magazine had come to life. That beautiful black face. Those dark and deep eyes. That bright encompassing smile.
Then I glance across to the faces of my new friends Adrian and Olgutsa. A boyfriend and girlfriend who traveled to this small village from Romania are also seeking the face of God. They too, communicate with laughter, broken English, and their eyes.
These children of God are communicating with each other across water; no longer separated by the water of the ocean, we communicate over a basin of dishwater.
This is baptism … a more honest and sincere form of conversation than I have ever experienced.
It is not with our voices for we speak different languages. It is with our eyes and it is with our laughter. We are speaking the language of the heart.
And we are washing dishes.
I look down into the basin of dishwater and at the reflection of the faces of my new friends. The dancing water and the shifting light has caused our faces to become one.
I, too, have discovered the face of Christ.
“This is my Beloved.”
(Text from Jesus: God Among Us by Roger Hutchison, Church Publishing, 2018, painting also by Roger Hutchison)