A friend shared the card she drew yesterday from a deck called The Shaman’s Oracle. The card features a drawing of a gazelle, drinking from a clear pool, and these words: “I am the ancestor of illusion. I can show you the true nature of those things around us that may appear to be beautiful but have a darker side hidden behind them. Life has many aspects that seem other than they truly are—my deep insight can uncover the reality behind this surface sheen.”
The lifting of illusion works in the opposite direction too. It can show us the true nature of that which appears to be ugly, so that we see a lighter, lovlier side. This is the work of Radical Joy for Hard Times, and it’s a process that happens over and over again when members of our worldwide community go to wounded places. We seek out fracked meadows, polluted rivers, sites of violence, and littered parks expecting to feel only anger, sorrow, and disgust.
Although we may feel those emotions at first, we almost always discover something else the longer we attend to those places, opening our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to what is really there. We discover beauty in the place in surprising ways.
The truth behind the illusion of ugliness and separation becomes even more apparent when we acknowledge both the ugliness and the beauty as part of the whole—and when we respond by creating a gift of beauty for the place.