Beautiful Tranquil Peaceful Unreal images of reality The reflection of the sun Shimmering on the glass surface Of the early morning lake Is exquisite The silver sparkles spread across the water Flickering as tiny ripples emerge The reflection of the sun is beautiful But it shares no warmth The pine tree stands sentry at water’s edge Protecting the land from erosion Giving home to birds, bugs, squirrels, spiders and more Dripping sap and needles indiscriminately Shedding pollen across the lake surface And all passersby The pine tree solid and true Engages fully in lake life The gorgeous, the plain and the ugly The water reflects the image of stalwart pine At certain times of day In just the right light The beauty is mirrored by still water It is an illusion Enjoyed, but not to be relied upon The ripples come, the storm clouds hover Night descends The mirrored image disappears But the pine remains In all its battered beauty. In early years Image is what I learned Look “perfect” and you won’t get in trouble Hide the flaws, be the un-scarred image Walk the line of perfect Earn heaven and avoid hell Punch your card White first communion dress White wedding dress Perfect grades Perfect attendance Obeying all the rules The religion of obedience without question Life was but a reflection until the clouds thickened And ripples appeared Reality insisted on being acknowledged As I reached deep within to truth I was cut by shards of the glass mirror And risked drowning in the still waters For reflections have no depth. My image pontificated On the evil of abortion Until a person dear to my heart Shared with me her abortion story. She had suffered alone Not daring to call out to me My image of perfection Spoke judgment and intolerance. Briefly, I glimpsed my false image I saw how love suffered in the presence of righteousness I saw the pain and suffering caused By narrowed vision My image As good Catholic Married forever Was a thin film as well As the surface ripples became white caps I learned to release the lie of the façade I learned to listen to the Spirit And choose life for my children and myself My image, my false self was crumbling As my true self And its shadow fought to survive authentically. Behind the facades of perfection Hide imperfect people Some insisting on inserting their beliefs upon our world Without regard for lives Yes, without regard for lives Without compassion or mercy Without love for broken and battered humans Sitting at bedsides of dying people People who are living from their truest selves As they are experiencing their bodies failing, dying Theirs is not a false image From these wise people I have learned Love is all that matters Truth is all that survives Judge not. Judge not.