It remains one of the most beautiful and truthful photographs I’ve ever seen-a picture taken by my sister years ago.*
On the surface, it’s a simple picture of an old woman’s hands in mid-flight as she plays her piano. Taken in black & white, the contrast in the picture draws out her dark veins (which lie close to the surface of her skin) while underneath showing how her muscles and tendons are working in concert as they have for more than 70 years. There is strength there. But also, we see how her skin depresses slightly on the fingers as they make contact with the familiar keys and we see that not only is there strength, but also a softness.
The hands of an elderly piano player are a beautiful thing, because her hands are a book. A book that shows us how she has loved music for a long time. Her hands are a book that tell a larger story and sing an older song. Music has happened through them…voices lifted and harmony found. Those years of practice and playing are all words written into the flesh of her hands. We see her hands and this whole story is told of how she loved music enough to give her hands to it.
This week in our Scripture passage from Exodus, we hear how Moses also becomes a book that tells of a glory beyond him. Moses has just met with God on a mountaintop, but as he descends the mountain there is something clearly different about him. His face shines. He has met with God and seen the depth to which God wishes to be involved in the life of his people. The Israelites down below the mountain see his face and this glory and desire of God is told to them by what they see on Moses’ face. His body has become a book that tells the glory of God to everyone who sees him.
The story for this week raised questions for me in my preparation for Sunday. If we are books, what is the story we are telling? Are we reflectors of God’s glory and grace beyond us? When people see us do they see a story of how we loved God enough to give ourselves to Christ and his work? Do we tell a story of not our own glory and desires, but instead the grace of Christ?
On Sunday we will talk about what it is to show Christ beyond us…we’ll see you here.
* The picture listed above is by David Putzier, Oregon Country Fair 2011. It is not the photograph I’m writing about, but similar. The original picture has sadly been lost to time.