TOWARDS A SPIRITUALITY OF THE SENSES
THE FACE IS THE ICON OF CREATION
Landscape is the first-born of creation. It was here hundreds of millions of years before the flowers, the animals or the people appeared. Landscape was here on its own. It is the most ancient presence in the world though it needs a human presence to acknowledge it. One could imagine that the oceans went silent and the winds became still the first time the human face appeared on earth; it is the most amazing thing in creation. In the human face, the anonymity of the universe becomes intimate.. The dream of thee winds and the oceans, the silence of the stars and the mountains, reached a mother-presence in the face. The hidden, secret warmth of creation comes to expression here. The face is the icon of creation. In the human mind, the universe first becomes resonant with itself. The face is the mirror of the mind. In the human person, creation finds the intimacy it mutely craves. Within the mirror of the mind it becomes possible for diffuse and endless nature to behold itself.
The human face is an artistic achievement. On such a small surface an incredible variety and intensity of presence can be expressed. This breadth of presence overflows the physical form. No two faces are exactly the same. There is always a special variation of presence in each one. Each face is a particular intensity of human presence. When you love someone and are separated from them for a long time, it is lovely to receive a letter or a phone call or even, in the silence of you own spirit, to sense their presence. Yet there is such deeper excitement when you return again and see the face you love; at this moment you enjoy a feast of seeing. In that face, you see the intensity and depth of loving presence looking towards you and meeting you. It is beautiful to see each other again. In Africa certain forms of greeting mean, ‘I see you.’ In Connemara the phrase used to describe popularity and admiration is, ‘tá agaidh an phobail ort’, i.e. the face of the people is towards you.
When you live in the silence and solitude of the land, cities seem startling. In cities there are such an incredible number of faces: the faces of strangers moving all the time with rapidity and intensity. When you look at their faces, you see the particular intimacy of their lives imaged. In a certain sense, the face is the icon of the body, the place where the inner world of the person becomes manifest. The human face is the subtle yet visual autobiography of each person. Regardless of how concealed or hidden the inner story of you life is, you can never successfully hide from the world while you have a face. If we knew how to read the face of another, we would be able to decipher the mysteries of their life story. The face always reveals the soul; it is where the divinity of the inner life finds an echo and image. When you behold someone’s face, you are gazing deeply into his or her life.