“Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God,”
said Jacob as he met his long-estranged brother Esau
for the first time in years.
Jacob felt that he knew what it was like to see God
from his mysterious wrestling match
with a “man” just before he crossed the Jabok River to face his brother.
Was this struggle all in his mind?
Was it real? Was it an angel? Was it God?
It didn’t matter, because the experience was real to him.
His struggle led to his new difficulty with walking due to a hip strain he had received
when he was alone, or, perhaps, not alone.
He had feared this reunion with his brother
because of the deceit to which he was a partner
that led to Jacob demanding the birthright of Esau
and taking the first-born son’s blessing with the help of his mother, Rebekah, who believed that Jacob’s destiny required drastic measure.
Jacob knew of Esau’s anger, and feared that he would not emerge
from this meeting alive.
Yet, as he saw Esau approaching, getting closer and closer,
he realized that there was something in Esau’s walk and his eyes
that reflected something other than hatred,
an assessment which was confirmed as the two brothers hugged and kissed.
Once Esau realized that he had all that he needed in life,
he was able to let go of the conflict with his brother
so that they could be in the same place once again
in a spirit of acceptance of each other’s individuality, and
perhaps, on some level, brotherly respect and love.
Jacob was still reluctant to reconcile enough to follow his brother and live alongside him after their meeting, but peace had finally been restored between the sons of Isaac.
As Jacob said, “seeing your face is like seeing the face of God,”
he acknowledged that touch of the divine in each person,
a realization which can, sometimes, lead to balance and equilibrium.
In communities, in families, and between nations,
conflicts may exist which are as serious as the tension between
Jacob and Esau, based in a past of mistrust and deceit, even hatred.
Like Esau and Jacob, when we accept ourselves as we are
and others as they are, we make room for the possibility
of an end to conflict and a beginning to renewed coexistence,
May we find such coexistence, even peace, in our lives and may our attitudes and actions lead to peace all around us.