When Truth Isn’t Truth –
This past Sunday, on a news show, President Donald Trump’s attorney uttered an interesting phrase; “Truth isn’t truth.” I don’t want to get into the politics of why it was said and how similar the statement was to Bill Clinton’s; “It depends on the definition of what ‘is’ is.” For those who know their history, this whole investigation is eerily similar to what happened in the late 1990’s except the two parties have switched sides.
My question is; “What is truth?”
It is the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before he was crucified. In the gospel of Saint John, chapter eighteen reads; “Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.”
Pilate’s world was politics, not conviction. He was stuck in this black hole of a place called Jerusalem and wanted to get out as soon as possible. Jesus had upset some influential people and he wanted the mess to go away. Later in the chapter, he gives Jesus over to these people to have him killed and even “washed his hands” of the whole situation as if choosing not to be involved is not being involved. He even questions Jesus, stands toe to toe with the Master, declares that he has no evidence against Jesus, but allows his crucifixion anyway. The truth was too dangerous.
“What is truth?” “Truth isn’t truth.” “I am the truth.” “Know the truth and it will set you free.”
Wisdom is the search for truth and to accept it wherever it leads us. The problem is that the truth leads us on a journey that often stands against power, sides with the poor and downtrodden, make choices that angers influential people, puts us on the side that often loses. Truth has never been and will never be an easy way.
A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom. The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”
This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.
To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.
Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.
I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.
On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.
I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?
Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.
This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.
Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.
Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.
For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.
Nowhere to Hide –
Today was my last visit to the dentist for the final part of a procedure that was started in July. I am glad it’s over. My only regret is that you have to keep going back for further check-ups…but that’s only for the rest of your life! Sigh.
The dentist’s office is the only place where I sit in the waiting room and hate for my name to be called. It was, and I went back to the little room with the horrible looking chair and sat down. Waited only a few moments before the doctor came and was in a talking mood! I answered his questions but my only thought was; “Dude, please, just get this over!”
Finally, he swung the big light into place and switched it on. I detest that light. It’s only inches from your face, you can feel its heat, your eyes adjust to the brightness, while it whispers; “You aren’t going anywhere until we’re through with you.” Under that light, the dentist can see everything in your mouth and on your face. It’s a very vulnerable, and for someone like me with claustrophobia, frightening position. After we were done I stood up, shook his hand because he extended it, and got out of that room as fast as possible.
Light has a dual way of allowing us to see and be seen.
The wisdom of the Master says; “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light” he summed up everything a sojourner needs to know. He is the way, the path, the journey we walk. It is the true way, in the midst of many deceptive roads which promise peace. Finally, he is the light by which we see the way, and the way, in turn, sees us. Our journey is inward, to the deepest recesses of who we are, and only by shining a light in the darkest places are we able to find the way home.
I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.
I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.
Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.
Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.
Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.
“Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb
There are some Sundays when I crave a worship service with liturgy, reading and response, rhythm. Today was one of those days. I arrived at an old, little church with wooden pews where I’ve attended before. I sat in the back in anticipation and waited.
In front of me was a young mother with two darling little girls who were active and adorable. They began to color and draw, dropping pencils and crayons, flipping pages and whispering. This would keep occurring even after the service began. The leader called the service to order and an infant, a few rows up, decided he wasn’t happy, a woman beside me started to cough, another parishioner sang off-key, loudly. My hopes for a meaningful worship time faded.
As part of this Sunday’s reading we listened to a selection from the gospel of Saint John, chapter 9. It is the story of man who was born blind and the Master healed him. At the end of the story Jesus finds him again and they share this exchange;
“Jesus … found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ The blind man answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’ The blind man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”
As I listened to the words I was reminded that too often we are led by our eyes, what we see and our ears, what we hear, instead of seeing and listening with our hearts. For it is in the heart where belief and true worship come from. Gently chastised, I let go of the frustration of the distractions and I prayed quietly; “Lord, I believe,” and worshiped.