Joyful Noise: Pretend Play and Authenticity

c) 2014 Jocelyn Mathewes / used with permission

c) 2014 Jocelyn Mathewes / used with permission

Like many young men of his tender age, Lucas loves his superheros. While I washed the dishes in the sink, he told me–in excited animation–that he needed a sidekick for his “new mission.”

No mention of what that mission could possibly be, of course.

And it struck me, that this is one of the many things we try on in childhood. Kids dress up in the trappings of various professions in order to try to experience them. They craft food out of dirt in order to “cook.” Pretend play, we call it. It’s cute, it’s important work, because sooner or later they grow into the real thing.

But don’t we adults do some of our own–perhaps spiritually dangerous–pretend play?

I’m often caught up in the trappings of my chosen profession (photography)–the newest technology, name-dropping semi-famous colleagues, enthralled in the latest fashionable technique (whatever that may be).

But as is said in the business, owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. I can own all the right things, say all the right things, but if the underlying work isn’t there to support it, it brings me nowhere. Dirt cakes.

It’s the things you do with the tools you have that make you authentically what you are.

And I ask myself this about my own faith: am I being authentic?

Sure, I’m a priest’s wife. Sure, there are icons all over my house. Yes, I have prayer ropes, baptismal crosses, and I’ve been known to stand in front of my icons and pray from time to time. Perhaps I’m reading something from the Fathers, and even tithing to the church.

But are these my sidekicks on a mission I haven’t defined? Are they equivalent to fancy new gadgets that help me to feel that I am professional, rather than helping me grow in my art and business. Or am I indeed using them to help me move daily, closer to the true mission in life: unity with God–theosis.

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