The longer I behold your face, O Lord, my God,
the more keenly you seem to fix your glance on me. And your gaze
prompts me to consider how this image of your face is thus portrayed in
a sensible fashion since a face could not have been painted without color
and color does not exist without quantity. But I see the invisible
truth of your face, represented in this contracted shadow here, not with
the eyes of flesh, which examine this icon of you, but with eyes of the
mind and the intellect. Your true face is absolute from every contraction.
It has neither quality nor quantity, nor is it of time or place, for it
is the absolute form, which is the face of faces.
When, therefore, I consider how this face is the truth and the most adequate measure of all faces, I am numbed with astonishment. For this face, which is the truth of all faces, is not a face of quantity. It is, therefore, neither greater nor smaller nor equal to any, since it is not of quantity but is absolute and superexalted. Therefore, it is the truth, which is equality, absolute from all quantity. Thus, O Lord, I comprehend that your face precedes every formable face, that it is the exemplar and truth of all faces and that all are images of your face, which is not subject to contraction and participation. Every face, therefore, which can behold your face sees nothing that is other or different from itself, because it sees there its own truth. Moreover, the truth of the exemplar cannot be other or different, but otherness and diversity happen to the image because the image is not itself the exemplar.
Therefore, while I look at this painted face from the east, it likewise appears that it looks at me in the east, and when I look at it from the west or from the south it also appears to look at me in the west or south. In whatever direction I turn my face, its face seems turned toward me. Thus, too, your face is turned to all faces which look on you. Your vision, Lord is your face. Consequently, whoever looks on you with a loving face will find only your face looking on oneself with love. And the more one strives to look on you with greater love, the more loving will one find your face. Whoever looks on you with anger will likewise find your face angry. Whoever looks on you with joy will also find your face joyous, just as is the face of the one who looks on you. So indeed the eye of the flesh, while peering through a red glass, judges that everything it sees is red or if through a green glass, that everything is green. In the same way, the eye of the mind, wrapped up in contraction and passivity, judges you, who are the object of the mind, according to the nature of the contraction and passivity.
A human being cannot judge except in a human way. When a person attributes a face to you, one does not seek it outside the human species since oneís judgment is contracted within human nature and in judging does not depart the passivity of this contraction. In the same manner, if a lion were to attribute a face to you, it would judge it only as a lionís face; if an ox, as an oxís; if an eagle, as an eagleís.
O Lord, how wonderful is your face, which a young man, if he wished to conceive it, would fashion as youthful; a grown man as manly; and an older man as elderly!
Who could conceive of this sole, truest, and most adequate exemplar of all faces, in such a way that it is the exemplar of all and of each individually and is so most perfectly the exemplar of each as if it were the exemplar of no other? One must leap beyond the forms of all formable faces and beyond all figures. And how would one conceive a face when one would transcend all faces, and all likenesses and figures of all faces, and all concepts that can be formed of a face, and all color, decoration, and beauty of all faces? Whoever, therefore, undertakes to see your face, so long as one conceives of anything, is far removed from your face. For every concept of a face is less than your face, O Lord. And every beauty that can be conceived is less than the beauty of your face. Every face has beauty, but none is beauty itself. Your face, Lord, has beauty, and this having is being. It is thus absolute beauty itself, which is the form that gives being to every form of beauty. O immeasurable lovely Face, your beauty is such that all things to which are granted to behold it are not sufficient to admire it.
In all faces the face of faces is seen veiled and in enigma. It is not seen unveiled so long as one does not enter into a certain secret and hidden silence beyond all faces where there is no knowledge or concept of a face. This cloud, mist, darkness, or ignorance into which whoever seeks your face enters when one leaps beyond every knowledge and concept is such that below it your face cannot be found except veiled. But this very cloud reveals your face to be there beyond all veils, just as when our eye seeks to view the light of the sun, which is the sunís face, it first sees it veiled in the stars and in the colors and in all things which participate its light. But when the eye strives to gaze at the light unveiled, it looks beyond all visible light, because all such light is less than what it seeks. But since the eye seeks to see the light which it cannot see, it knows that so long as it sees anything, what it sees is not what it is seeking. Therefore, it must leap beyond every visible light. Whoever, therefore, has to leap beyond every light must enter into that which lacks visible light and thus is darkness to the eye. And while one is in that darkness, which is a cloud, one knows one has come near the face of the sun. For that cloud in oneís eye originates from the exceeding brightness of the light of the sun. The denser, therefore, one knows the cloud to be the more one truly attains the invisible light in the cloud. I see, O Lord, that it is only in this way that the inaccessible light, the beauty, and the splendor of your face can be approached without a veil.