I just walked outside for a bit. Only around the backyard. Filling bird feeders. Peering at squirrel and rabbit prints crisscrossing under the dogwood, alongside the house, then up the fence (squirrel) and under the mulch pile behind the shed (rabbit). I chose, today, to not go out anywhere–no walk, and certainly, due to abundant snow on the ground and more or sleet predicted any minute now, no bicycling. I didn’t even feel like walking the .4 miles there and back to the mailbox, which is nicely situated along the perimeter of a greenspace that the city has pretty effectively maintained. It is about 1/4 acre diagonally bisected with a footpath that beginning in autumn is wonderfully carpeted in acorns from three large red oaks and one black oak. There is also a sugar maple, maybe two. There also were two lindens/american basswoods, but they were felled a year or two ago–I wrote a rant about that in a previous post. Three ornamental cherries have since been planted in their stead. I pray for their health and growth. They’ll be far less imposing in 20 years than the lindens were, but if successful, they will provide their own story and feed their own crowd of robins, mourning doves, cardinals, sparrows, mockingbirds, and blue jays, with finches flitting through. By then I’ll be able to do little more than sit on the park bench beneath them and watch, delightedly. If I’m honest, even that is a maybe–me in 20 years.
Lately I have found myself thinking about truth, and finding references to truth, and to truths, in just about everything I pick up to read, from newspapers, to mystery novel, to a collection of environmental observances and commentaries, to the Bible, to articles on the histories of several countries, including this one in which I was born and live, to poems of the day, to friends’ electronic communication sites.
I have been finding myself uncomfortable with the range of pronouncements/opinions/theories on what is truth. Is truth so malleable? Does one ever speak it? What is more stable a measure–fact or truth? What do I mean, a measure? What is measuring, by what means, and what is being measured? Is truth measurable? Against what standards? Say the word ‘truth’. What are your expectations when you hear it said? Is truth a concept or an object?
Then I listened to a conversation, presented on February 20th, 2021, on On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. She was talking with Rabbi Ariel Burger, who was a student of, and continues to study Elie Wiesel. Rabbi Burger said this: “…truth is really the search for truth. It’s not primarily about facts and data. We needs facts & data, & that’s been an endangered specie, in many ways, for awhile too. But there’s a certain way of opening up to a larger perspective and saying, “I need to reflect, & I need to challenge my assumptions. I need to become aware of my assumptions.” And this is a big part of my own experience as a student. The best things I’ve ever learned were not content. They were some sort of contrast with someone else’s way of thinking that at first seemed really strange to me, that I allowed in that I allowed to question me. And I, through that process, became aware of my own assumptions and the lens through which I was looking.”
Perhaps consider, truth is the way we live in, it is not in us, it is never confined by us, thus not defined by us, we are within it, or not.