THE FACE AND THE SECOND INNOCENCE
Your face is the icon of your life. In the human face a life looks out at the world and also looks in on itself. It is frightening to behold a face in which bitterness and resentment have lodged. When a person’s life has been bleak, much of its negativity can remain unhealed. Since it is left untransfigured, the bleakness lodges in the face. The face, instead of being a warm presence, has hardened to become a mask. One of the oldest words for person is the Greek word prosopon; and prosopon originally meant the mask that actors wore in a Greek chorus. When bitterness, anger or resentment are left untransfigured, the face becomes a mask. Yet one also encounters the opposite, namely, the beautiful presence of an old face which is deeply lined and inscribed by time and experience, but has retained a lovely innocence. Even though life may have moved wearily and painfully through such a person, they have still managed not to let it corrode their soul. In such a face a lovely luminosity shines out into the world. It casts a tender light that radiates a sense of holiness and wholesomeness.
The face always reveals who you are, and what life has done to you. Yet it is difficult for your to see the shape of your own life; your life is too near you. Others can decipher much of your mystery from your face. Portrait artists admit that it is exceptionally difficult to render the human face. Traditionally the eyes are said to be the windows of the soul. The mouth is also difficult to render in the individual portrait. In some strange way the line of the mouth seems to betray the contour of the life; a tight mouth often suggests meanness of spirit. There is a strange symmetry in the way the soul writes the story of its life in the contours of the face.