Truth is in the flourishing

Sure, it gets better than this, but as a second rate experience, walking into a Starbucks that just opened a half block from your  condo and hearing KD Lang sing Black Coffee; followed by Chrissie Hynde, with that brass in her pocket, making you see, may-king you no-tice, well, I’ll take it. Especially (so affected am I by weather) on this dish-rag grey Sunday. Still, here in mid-life (How long can I go on calling it that?), I’ll take any open-ended day and be rather thankful.

Noticing the slant of a day is not difficult. Although I do admit to selective noticing—I can be incorrigibly blind to certain details. But I do watch. Like you. And I try to notice. Because, like you, I was born with a riddle in my head. Oh, but I’m lousy at riddles.

Wasn’t it on Sundays when all the terminal riddles were solved? Solved with solid exegesis that was sure to take in the hermeneutical sweep of historical and redaction and form criticisms, everything falling into place at the last moment—just before the hymn. All the pieces found. And for so many, the pieces seem to be truly found. And that is good.

But, for others the metaphor of pieced-together-puzzle is not merely inadequate, it bears no relation to reality—no relationship to our organic, flowing, blooming, mystery-built-in being.

As a writer, well, as a human with a riddle in his skull, truth is the grail. Not just big truth, but all the little truths that make up our lives. And it seems to me that we stop growing when we stop looking for the little truths, or noticing them when we see them.

We seed the ground with questions and sit with what sprouts up. We can’t help it that we are meaning makers. We lounge with questions—we know this is more fruitful than carousing with answers.

We ask. Can truth really be white bright, having a fixed point outside our universe? If so, how can we know? Doesn’t truth, as experienced by we earthed beings, have shape and contours and colours?  Doesn’t truth sound more like the bending blue notes of a harmonica than a single blast of a trumpet?

Isn’t truth better understood, not as something we believe, but as something we do? Isn’t truth about what’s good for food? What brings health?

How about this approach? Given all the things we had no choice about, all the things we were dropped into the world with, given our contingencies that keep us in relation to everything around us but give us no unadulterated access to Truth, given all this blind understanding, given all this knowing nescience, how do we live in such a way that helps us flourish where we are? And who can we find that will show us when we’re browning at the edges and so perhaps water us? And if we flourish, perhaps it helps those around us flourish as well?

For my part, I try simply to live upon my little ship with its sea anchor. Because that is all I am given. No foundational grounding, no hermetically sealed theology; but neither am I set adrift in an ocean of relativity, post-modernity does not need to run amuck.

I like my sea anchor faith, but twinges of fear and sea sickness are often present, and on the way there are windless days and days of steady gales.

But I prefer the waves, I prefer this existential living and breathing rather than the suffocating unreality of absolute certitude on the one hand, or nihilism on the other—it’s healthier. The mere-ness, the vulnerability—but openness—of this way of sailing, this way of walking, in my experience, has brought me closer to the gospel of peace and love, and with it, a growing inability to judge. Peace.


  1. You caught me here, Steve. I’m reading through 1 Corinthians these days. 8:1 says that knowledge puffs up but love builds up. Fascinating opposites – knowledge vs. love. Truth without love is no longer true. This verse comes in the wake of the first chapters with the emphasis on the crucified Christ – the anchor that calls into question all other attempts at certitude.

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