Last week I ended these words for the wind
with, try not to succumb to the fantasies,
real life is terrific!
Real life is all around us and it comes with
many tastes, colors, and seasons of the
heart and the mind and the soul.
Fantasies are all around us, too.
Fantasies can be important if we learn from
them or allow them to teach us to judge
critically, in the first place, the
difference between what isn’t really real or
reality based and what is based in reality.
I know that we all go through periods of
growth and maturing that rely on the
necessary development of mental and
emotional markers that help us keep our
equilibrium and balance in fast and
ever-changing environments that we can find
These markers give us the ability to
function as reasonably happy citizens of
diverse states of being as parents,
children, teachers, students, spouses,
employers, plumbers, brokers, lawyers,
bakers, etc. because we recognize the
difference between real life and fantasies.
Granted there are valid reasons to want to
avoid reality given the intentionally caused
chaos and mayhem we increasingly encounter
in “real” life but avoidance rarely
contributes to the common good and easily
leads to codependence on the fantasy or
fantasies of choice building worlds of
meaning that lack wisdom and context.
What is it about movies with
anthropomorphized toys that gets us? Or
movies about airplanes or cars that talk
and, apparently, think and feel, that
For that matter how do movies about men in
spandex that can fly work their ways into
our lives and become heroic figures?
Fantasies lived or embraced beyond childhood
inhibit maturity and eventually create havoc
in personal lives and relationships, even in
our times when many of us can develop lives
steeped in fantasy and are enabled by a
wider culture that enables us to live in our
fantasy worlds well into our senior years,
sooner or later, reality strikes and we
either grow up or we do not.
Adult to adult encounters and transactions
are very often channeled or mediated through
the activities, typically competitive, of
their children and adults devote enormous
amounts of time in the pursuit of their
children’s or grandchildren’s activities
instead of pursuing their own recreation and
I am not questioning the love of parents and
grandparents for their children, I just ask
a few questions about the nature of an adult
‘s need to recreate or be entertained in a
manner that refreshes and renews an adult.
I think when adults almost exclusively find
entertainment and recreation in a child’s
world, they ultimately isolate themselves
and contribute to their own loneliness.
Is there any balance, are children brought
into the adult world of reasoned and
thoughtful conversation, of recreation that
relies not on competition but skill or
deliberation, patience and ambiguity?
Can adults and children together encounter
the beauty and mystery and healing benefits
of a lake or river, a forest or woods, do we
have any parks that can be shared simply as
places to be with others in serene and calm
Can adults and children encounter beauty in
music or paintings, for instance, or reading
and discussing books or sharing movies
Depending on our role in a family, society,
or institution our immaturity and embrace of
fantasies can have serious consequences for
others, usually innocent and less powerful
Talking toys and cute kittens and puppies
that seem to actually feel emotions and care
about one another, can be marvelous teaching
tools at appropriate times in our lives but
talking toys and cute kittens and puppies
are not really reliable contributors to
wisdom, critical thinking, and reasoned
discourse that the actual world we live in
requires desperately and urgently at this
I am reading Robert Macfarlane’s new book,
Underland: A Deep Time Journey, and
learning so, so much that I did not ever
think of much less “know” and it is opening
pathways in my mind to ways of connecting my
intuitions about our common life with the
Catholic Tradition as I have learned it from
wise and thoughtful men and women.
Robert Macfarlane introduced me to the term
“species loneliness” a term which I find
useful and important in attempting to make
the Gospel stories and their unique
teachings more available to you in my
preaching and writing.
Species loneliness, is the term that many
serious people who care about and study the
ways we are trying to be human in our times
describe as “the intense solitude that we
are fashioning for ourselves as we strip the
Earth of the other life with which we share
I think serious people of faith need to
think long and hard about that term and how
it looks in real life.
Our need to turn things, not even real but
virtual things, into creatures that we want
to be like us and consider “just like us”
is, in my mind, an example of species
loneliness, as is our humanization of animal
pets as appropriate life companions and real
friends, as is turning the production of
animal based food into entertainment and
recreation ala Fair Oaks Farms.
The moral universe that permits treating
other human beings as if they have no
dignity or purpose or value or use, if they
are not functioning as components in a
system based entirely in numerical
categories is what allows us to hide in
fantasies and fantasy worlds where there is
no real care, no real compassion, no
priority on healing or mending what is
broken and hurting.
The Gospel story this weekend is quite clear
and direct in identifying the crucial
element in the teachings of Christ and that
is that care and healing are the essential
acts of those who would follow Christ.
Care and healing begins with the our own
care and healing and is extended to the care
and healing of the “worlds” that we
encounter in each day.
Shrinking our world to fantasies that we can
control and manage, as we are prone to do
these days, is rooted in self-hatred and an
ignorance of our own essential nature and
our necessary need to be acknowledged as a
person and our need to recognize the dignity
in everything and everyone who shares the
earth with us right now.