the grand illusion

I came across a quote by Regina Brett awhile back that says, “If we all threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

I was reminded of that quote during Mass yesterday. Fr. Robert said these words, “We find ourselves comparing what is inside of us to what we see outside of others.”

It’s so easy…so human…to compare our lives and situations to others. I know I do. It’s hard not to. Especially now, when so many details are shared on social media. We are inundated by information, both good and bad. It’s hard not to look at someone’s situation and adopt a feeling of envy or self importance. But are things always as they first appear?

My grandfather was driving one time when a box came tumbling, end over end, down a hill and onto the roadway. It stopped right in his path and at the last second, he had to swerve into the other lane to miss hitting. It scared him so badly that he pulled to the side of the road, shaking. He decided to get out and move the box, so it wouldn’t endanger another driver.

Grandpa was about half the way back, when he stopped cold in his tracks. The box began to move, and to his surprise, two little boys climbed out. They were laughing and having fun…that is, until they saw my grandfather approaching. After giving them a stern lecture and impressing on them just how much danger they had been in, the boys promised to find somewhere safer to play.

My mother said that each time her father told this story, his hands would shake and he would tear up. He had no idea what was inside that box when he decided to go around it instead of hitting it. He thought it was just an empty box, getting blown around.

The scripture this morning was from the book of Mark. Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Galilee and he was telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death, the Son of Man will rise.”

Now, you’d think that this would get the disciples attention. I mean, this is heady stuff. It goes on to say that the disciples didn’t understand and were afraid to question Jesus.

When they go to where they were going, Jesus asked the disciples what they had been arguing about. Of course, no one wanted to fess up…but Jesus knew. The disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest. Here was Jesus, pouring out his heart to them and they were arguing like a bunch of kids on the playground.

Sometimes it’s easier to move away from what makes us uncomfortable. Maybe it’s experience or maybe the burden we carry feels too heavy to take on anymore. But there is no way to know what the other person is dealing with: emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

This morning, God reinforced this point through one of my favorite hobbies…my butterflies. I have several in chrysalis and one turned black last night. The first time this happened, it freaked me out. I thought it had died. When I looked it up online, I found this was perfectly normal. It wasn’t turning black and dying…it was preparing to emerge. By shining a light on it, you can clearly see the butterfly’s wing, orange with black veins.

For me, it was a good reminder. Things are not always as they first appear.  As an avid reader, I know the old adage to be true: Never judge a book by its cover. If only I were as quick to apply it to those around me as I am to my reading material.

So you think your life is
complete confusion
Because your neighbors got it made
Just remember that, it’s a grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same.


1 thought on “the grand illusion

  1. The boys in the box sounds like Josh running across the street in Poseyville as a little boy – he could beat those cars – he was fast! Never crossed his mind, he says, all the things that could have gone wrong!


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