We’re having a winter get-away in the land of let’s pretend…where darkness is better than light, where life begins at nightfall, where spending is gaining and when the lights go on it’s closing time…In the excesses of this artificial world are a thousand chances to pretend, some more innocent than others. Is pretending all that bad? and why do we like such illusions when we know they aren’t for real?
Take for instance our cheap hotel—Let’s pretend we’re at the beach. Surfboards are at the ready. Wet footprints in the elevators. Palm trees and orange décor fill every room in the Ocean Tower but… where’s the surf?!
Tired of the beach, let’s go to Venice. Serenaded by the gondolier plying his craft down the canal under the quaint footbridges we wander through quaint side streets under a stunningly realistic painted blue sky studded with fluffy clouds. We are stuck in a sort of ambient twilight zone that makes the mind unwind and the soul dream. It’s a surreal world of glitzy shops and picturesque cafes and pastry shops, of ‘sidewalk’ restaurants with very unreal prices that must be paid with real money while the world goes peacefully by in virtual happiness…
I have always wanted to visit Venice so was captivated to discover this little ‘world’ within the world of Las Vegas. As we sat relishing a picture-perfect and delicious fruit tart and breakfast croissant in the early morning quiet of our little wonder-land I got to reflecting on what it is about such unreality that makes it so endearing.
Las Vegas is the epitome of ‘the lust of the eyes’. What you see is however, not what you get. It’s pretend. You can pretend for instance, that “I love you” and “You are mine”, but the morning light will prove it not to be so… Is this why the lighting is such that it is always fading day or darkest night?
The land of pretend is flawless. The canals do not smell dank. The tenement housing of New York, New York is quaint and picturesque, not sordid. The cobblestone streets of Rome are polished and its dictators benign statues. No coliseum for torturing saints here. It’s magnificent. It’s opulent. It’s decadent. But, this land of ‘let’s pretend’ is transient. It represents the worlds we long to live in but never quite find. Our hearts are drawn to love these things, illusions of the true, better than the real in some ways—this is a land of sanitized miniatures and flawless facades. Paradise is not here. Nor is love. It is these we were made for. As I sat in that Venetian pastry shop sipping and nibbling I recognized this longing for a beautiful reality that never fades, a lasting love that never tires—things that outlast the night—that befit endless day.
We are made for the real thing, a city that has no need of light for the Son is there. A city where it is never night but always there is life. A land of endless day and rapturous love. On this I choose to set my heart. The rest is imitation. Fun to visit, in spots. And great for kindling dreams of greater things…
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ, He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” I Jn. 5:20,21