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Richard Rohr (2009, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p.50) has written, “You really know only that which you first love…because otherwise you invariably distort and divide your sight and eliminate any bothersome or threatening information. Then you do not love it but (at best) only your idea of it.

When I was reading this morning, this quote jumped out at me because it immediately made me think of the times in my life that I was in love with my “idea” of who a person was or the potential I wanted them to be rather than the person they actually were. Suddenly, the quote seemed full of profound wisdom. Where else do I inadvertently fall into the same trap? When I:

  • Don’t like something because of the “idea” or perception I have of it rather than the actual “it”
  • Only love myself when I successfully meet unrealistic self-expectations shaped by others
  • Use “not being perfect” as an excuse to indulge in addictive or harmful behaviors
  • Judge conservative Republican well-to-do people as totally wrong and selfish

My list could go on and on, but what I am realizing is  the “mistake” of accepting my perception or “idea” as the only reality totally limits  my world as I know it. How sad that my “blinders” keep me from perceiving life as it actually is. But then, my next thought is, “How scary is that?” Maybe I don’t want to know reality; maybe I am more comfortable with my habitual perception of reality….maybe I am protecting myself—or, at least, the “self” I have allowed myself to know through the years.

But then comes the thought,  “wasn’t that what I was doing back in the day when I used to get drunk rather than face a reality I didn’t like?” Did excessive drinking or eating ever really protect me from reality? Of course not. Again, my ideas and perceptions gave me a false sense of security and actually eventually endangered my life.

Enough meandering. The main points of this conversation I am having with myself and you this morning are:

  • it is important to realize that one’s idea/perception, even if it is mine, is not the only view of reality available
  • accepting an erroneous idea/perception as reality can result in harm to self and/or others
  • opening my mind and heart to other ideas and perceptions of reality enriches my experience of life and, perhaps, gets me closer to “truth”
  • allowing myself and others to be as we are without judging opens me up to be a better channel for God’s unconditional love—to feeling loved and to loving others

I hope you are having a good day. Please share your thoughts on the topic of reality vs. perception. May God bless and keep you.