I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of the mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut that little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me.
Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth that I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks.
“Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.”
She nods, and is silent. But the young man smiles.
“I like it”, he says. It’s kind of cute.”
All at once, I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I [am] so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. “
– Richard Selzer (as quoted by Brennan Manning in the Ragamuffin Gospel, 104-105)
I’m drawn to this story. Why? Because it reminds me of the One Who saw how sin had left me distorted, gnarled and ugly. Yet, instead of looking away in disgust, my Prince of Peace came near, bent down, twisted His lips to fit mine and gave me an eternal kiss of life.
Whether you have an earthly lover or not on this Valentine’s Day, may you remember you have the Ultimate Valentine in the Prince of Peace, Who has “loved you with an everlasting love!” (Jeremiah 31:3)