Smoke and Mirrors

Today, 29th March, we’re starting to see the relaxation of lockdown. Outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households are allowed; outdoor sports facilities – tennis courts, football pitches and golf courses are cautiously reopening.

Still no non-essential shops, barbers and hairdressers, cafes, pubs or restaurants, cinemas or theatres, international travel, non-essential overnight stays…

We shall enjoy a celebratory gathering – 1 family, 1 garden,  2 households, 4 pizzas, 5 o’clock, 8 people…

29th March is ‘Smoke and Mirrors Day’. Since ancient times objects and people have appeared or disappeared by the ‘magic’ created by using ‘smoke and mirrors’.

Conjurors, illusionists and magicians continue to entertain us – sawing ladies in half, sticking swords through people, predicting our choices through distraction, deception and illusion. We enjoy not knowing how they do the ‘trick’.

My schoolboy sense of humour still enjoys tricks that involve a ‘false bottom’.

The phrase ‘smoke and mirrors’ is also used as a metaphor. Deception, distraction, manipulation and insubstantial explanation are the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that hide or cover up truth and reality.

In particular, throughout history, powerful men in politics and religion have lied, deceived and created their own version of truth… ‘smoke and mirrors’.

Today is ‘Holy Monday’, the Monday at the start of Holy Week.

Traditional readings follow the Palm Sunday narrative in Matthew 21. Jesus cleanses the temple, turning over the tables of the traders and money changers; he curses a fig tree that has no fruit when he is hungry; he’s confronted by the priests and religious leaders who question his authority.

This Jesus story, bringing together religion and politics, continues to bring both inspiration and controversy.

I continue to seek to perceive and understand this Jesus better. ‘The way, the truth and the life’ who brings clarity and integrity and stands against the deception and manipulation of smoke and mirrors.

And in the mean time I’m looking forward to my pizza.

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