“How does Truth prosper among us?”
03/07/2018 § 2 Comments
substance of a message given in Central Philadelphia meeting
In New England Yearly Meeting, at this time of year, meetings are preparing their reports on their spiritual condition, the state of their society for the previous year. We are pleased to recall the old Query from the early years of our movement, “How does Truth prosper among you?”
Very often we respond to this old question as if it meant “How’s it going?” So we can say, Well, we’ve got a First Day School that’s going well, and there’s a lot of activity around social justice concerns, and we’re doing some outreach, and Meeting for Worship is important. There’s an issue we need to address, and we’re grateful for what’s been given to us this past year. Our answers are like the shimmer on the surface of the rippling sea, not showing much of the quieter movements, far below the surface. This morning I have been led to some consideration of the word “Truth” in the query.
Friends in the past used “Truth” in ways that went well beyond a simple proposition or assertion of fact, a “truth claim,” some specific content. “Truth” instead connoted something of the action and the reality of God’s work in the world, as we experience and try to live it.
When I go to the center, and find my way to the place of Presence, as we have done in this gathering this morning, and I am feeling in that Presence a sense of stillness, then the Truth I encounter means that I see my unity with those around me. I can see or feel again my unity with humans at large — my neighbors known and unknown to me — and beyond the human world, unity with other living beings and the landscape they live upon. I can feel my being a creature, a part of the creation, and take delight in it.
Having felt or tasted that unity, in that place of connection, I find that Truth takes the form of light or illumination, so that I see, am given the ability to see, often with pain or grief, ways in which I have failed to keep that unity in mind, failed to live up to what I have been shown already; or allowed that understanding to be overwhelmed or drowned out by the noise and bustle of daily living. So “truth” then is encountered as judgment — judgment in the Light.
Yet if I can accept that truth, at the Center, and wait in the place where unity is felt, I can be led to see and accept that I, even I, can experience forgiveness, can move with the guidance of the Light’s judgment to renewal of my life, and that, if I have not lived fully in the measure of that life and light that I have been given to see, yet the promise is still there, and some power given to heal that grief, and move again into faithfulness. So “Truth” means mercy, too — the action or experience or process of mercy.
From the truth rooted in experiencing unity, illumination, grief and mercy — in the operations of divine love — I may find, in the Presence, a dawning realization that to me, in my measure, is given some role to play in Christ’s work of reconciliation, of healing, of rescue, of service — in addition to the daily bread of faithfulness — so that “Truth” means concern, and not just concern in general, but concern as a specific focus and way that I am given to follow, for a time. So then “Truth” is also a path, and the pathfinder — and the companion along the way.
The God, the mystery God, with whom we are gathered here, who has brought us together this morning, can be called by many names, in our many languages and moods and needs. One of them, though, is “Truth,” and I am seeing this morning that unity, illumination, grief, judgment, mercy, love, concern, are all other ways of saying “truth,” and when we ask ourselves about the prosperity of Truth, the truth of of our condition, we are really being challenged to examine where we are seeing evidence of these operations and effects, the life, of the active Truth among us.
How does Truth prosper among us?