In Abbot Francis Acharya’s translation of Ode 13 of the Odes of Solomon, an early apostolic Christian hymnbook, we read: ‘The Lord is a mirror to us, let us open our eyes and see ourselves in it, discover what we look like, and wipe all the paint from our faces. Then proclaim praises to the Holy Spirit, love his sanctity and clothe ourselves in it, and be without blemish continually in his presence. Hallelujah!’ (ATC Publications, Bangalore, India 2018). God’s Name is like a mirror that is empty for what it reflects, being empty at centre as uncreated ‘I AM,’ simultaneously embracing creation off centre without confusion or division, seeing the created in God, and God in creation. Face to face vision reveals God’s Face at centre embracing created faces off-centre, without confusion or separation. The Ode calls such faces ‘painted,’ indicating a confused or deceptive appearance that wisdom removes. Wisdom purifies vision so that the heart knows creation as God knows it, knowing it as it is known by God. (1 Cor 13: 12) The Apostle Paul says that an unveiled face mirrors the glory of ‘I AM’ and is transformed into God’s likeness from glory to increasing glory, which is the work of ‘I AM’ the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:18). Here in Ode 13, the unveiled face also opens to glorification of the Holy Spirit, whose holiness clothes us in the hallowing Name. To abide in the Holy Spirit is to hallow the Name in blessed purity of heart. It is the Spirit that knows how to pray this prayer of the Name in the heart, imparting truth as life.
The Name unveils God’s Face in the midst to be like a mirror, empty for others, aware and present yet empty for all. ‘I AM’ from ‘I AM’ is God-centred as God’s image of God, not self-centred like Narcissus, as when glory falls short of glory (Rom 3:23). So the Name is a mirror to us revealing God, opening the eye of the heart to God at centre, releasing the created face to arise off-centre, leaving God enthroned at centre in the midst. This is the heart of throne vision, which is like a chariot throne when it moves as wisdom into glory and glory into wisdom. These Merkabah mysteries unfold as awareness embracing presence and presence embracing awareness, glory unveiled through wisdom, wisdom discerning glory in the hallowed Name. For ‘I AM’ is co-inherence of wisdom and glory, awareness and presence, ineffably hidden at the heart of first-personhood in God and by grace in us. The Name unveils true likeness to God as well as the originating image of God, even though there is no trace of confusion between God and what God creates. The unveiling of God’s Face utterly transcends the created faces that God unveils. There is no common measure between God and creation, but when the Name bears witness in the Spirit to this wholesome communion without confusion, it does so without trace of separation or division. ‘I AM’ is our God, ‘I AM’ is one,’ (Deut 6:4). The oneness of ‘I AM’ is indivisible in God and so grounds healthy difference in unity without separation among us. Christ mirrors God as God’s image communicating God, but this revelation of glory to wisdom does not confuse or divide.
The Spirit frees as wisdom unveils glory in the midst. The Spirit releases into freedom whatever arises off-centre as an icon of God in the midst. Glory transfigures creation when wisdom turns and sees God here at centre. ‘I AM’ mirrors God as wisdom beholding glory and glory upholding wisdom. God’s unveiled Face unveiling our veiled faces empties us of all that obstructs union and communion. Wisdom ascribes all glory to the Father but this glorification in the Spirit bears witness to the Father through the Son, whose glory does not cling to his own glory but pours itself out as glorification of God’s Name above all names enlightening all, which is our deification in Holy Trinity. It is the Spirit of Truth that opens the way of ‘I AM’ as undying life through the Cross of Glory. ‘I AM’ from God gives all glory to God in a circulating embrace of all through all, in God. The Spirit’s encircling co-inherence is everywhere present and fills all things. It is visibly present in the dance of encircling planets, stars and galaxies which mirrors the encircling dance of wisdom and glory in God. It is invisibly present in the embrace of wisdom and glory which is purification and illumination of the heart. We turn and see so that purification and illumination transfigure into glorification as blessed release. Glorification is God’s Face unveiling our veiled faces to his uncreated wisdom and glory here in the midst. The mirror removes the confusion that divides, unseating the pride that usurps God at centre. Our temporal mirroring through conditioned ways and means mirrors God obscurely and indirectly, but God’s timeless mirroring in unconditioned glory sees God face to face, knowing God as God alone knows God, full of grace and truth.