The Simile

   From the Christian scriptures, James 1:23-24:

   For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 

     How quickly we forget what we have seen and heard.

     The first question in the Bible begins, “Did God say…?”

     We hear the Voice. 

     The Voice that created us divine.

     But we forget. 

     We see a child’s face in the mirror. 

     We walk away.

      And forget what it is like to be a child.

      If we remembered, wouldn’t we

            be patient with children

            affirm their asking “Why?” even when we don’t have an answer

            not scare them with the rage of our temper

            listen to what they’re trying to help us understand their feelings

            spend time in nature with them

            laugh with them

            cry with them

            hold them? 

     We see a teenager’s face in the mirror.

     We walk away.

     And forget what it is like to be a teenager.

     If we remembered, wouldn’t we

             be less critical of them

             convince them that we learned the hard way tooreassure them that who they are transcends their performance

           warn them that the transition from childhood through adolescence is erratic

           inform them that no one escapes self-doubt about being good enough

           hold them even while they’re seeking to be free of us

           listen to them when they are trying to help us understand what they don’t understand

           be honest about our own failures, confusion, uncertainties

           be available without being clingy, authoritative, and judgmental

           love them when they are unlovable 

           encourage them to discover who they really are, accept it, celebrate it, and be it?

We see a college student’s face in the mirror.

We walk away.

And forget what it’s like to be a college student.

When I remember when I was a college student, I am grateful for

           Dr. McLain, who let me turn in my senior paper on the night before graduation

           Don Steele, who took me to the hospital after being injured playing softball

           Coach Mabry, who talked me into running cross country again after I’d quit

           Grandparents, who let me live with them before I married

           Rev. Joe Pennel, who saw potential in me and helped me see it too

           Suzanne, who provided crucial emotional support

           Anonymous benefactors, who made my scholarship—and college–possible for this first-  

                           generation college student

What if, when we look in the mirror, 

we don’t see the face of someone who is

             sick and without health insurance






            fearing deportation

            mentally ill

            contending with a disability

            fighting cancer

            fleeing oppression and abuse


What if we looked at the face in the mirror

Walked away

Forgetting the face we saw

Forgetting the faces of those we didn’t see

What if we looked at the face in the mirror

Walked away

And did not forget.

Could it be the beginning of a

Re-membering of all

Who, when we look into each other’s faces,

See ourselves



Mike Ripski

Mike Ripski serves as University Chaplain and teaches FSL and The Bible as Literature. He is a retired United Methodist pastor.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN