Illusions are those moments when reality appears to us whole and inspired, seamless and palatable. There is a satisfying fullness about it, a completeness that stirs the narrative of self and somehow infuses the stories we tell ourselves about what the world is like. There is a certain comfort to the fabrication; it abides within, sheltering and shaping, enabling and even empowering at times.
Even better are the moments when understanding unfolds. Illusions meet the sharp edge of truth in the scrutiny of exposure. In that agonizing season of loss, the loneliness of illusions abandoned, there is a quiet rebirth, something new and sacred coming to life. And the spiral draws one deeper into the truth drilling as it dares towards the core of human experience.
Illusions are laced through professional life and relationships, into personal friendships and interactions, institutions and hierarchies. In some way, illusions are born of the human desire to see no further, to accept if not condone, to survive the descrepancies and curious contradictions in life. They survive because it is easier, and they die in the face of truth.
Illusions are a reflection of human limitations, a convenience for social negotiation and a refuge from the truth. And yet, they impede opportunities for the collective good and confine perception to a measurable space.
Life is so much more than that.
In the days after the Resurrection, in the tangle of loss and leaving, there is a clear invitation to see and experience life without the mantle of illusion, to experience the rawness of grief and the waves of shock to come to understanding, to put all the pieces together in an entirely new and more meaningful way. It is oddly powerful for some, and for others, not at all significant.
Catholicism offers an unflinching invitation to walk away from the illusions and towards understanding. It’s stories and history are a web of gains and losses on the journey; its liturgical year is a testimony to the one-step-forward, two-steps-back pattern of human growth. It’s saints are lists of persons in search of purpose and consistency, strengths and failures. It’s successes and failures are a mirror of the human journey. And it’s continuity in spite of all that is a testimony to what is, what could be, possible. It is , after all, about becoming.
Releasing illusions is just one small part of the journey. Recognizing, naming, living and loving the truth is another.