“There’s nothing so hard to see as something you’re looking at too hard.” — Uncle Mac
“We do good because it … opens us to the truth of happiness. Kindness is not a perfunctory, obligatory action; it is the deepest recognition that we’re all in this together.” — Pema Chodran
In this age of truthiness and an increasingly uncomfortable relationship between politics and religion, and the truth claims politicians make in the name of religion, maybe like me you sometimes find it difficult to know what to believe. History has become less and less absolute (and “historical”) as its authors’ and recorders’ biases are exposed. Religion is filled with division, extremism, and deceit. Certainly, science provides some guidelines for discovering a kind of “truth”, for giving us a level of security about the best choices to make — about what we can trust in our moment to moment living. Some scientific achievements say a vaccination or understanding weather patterns or climate change, are proven out over time and trust eventually (hopefully) grows. Others we come to know and trust more immediately and first hand (the law of gravity, for example, proving that I will likely slam to the ground, a young adult writhing in pain, if I saw off the tree branch I happen to be sitting on — lesson learned!)
But even Einstein once quipped, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” Life can feel disconnecting and disconcerting to say the least!
My father-in-law, Marvin Fox, was a great aero-dynamics engineer and an engaging amateur astrophysicist. He often reminded me that at the heart of a healthy scientific mind is an active “unknowing”. Without that, we might never come to know what we don’t yet know. But even then, he’d add with a smile, what we come to know often just opens up more questions!
I once heard the idea of “what we know” as being a little like a small circle in the vast openness of everything around us. We start with a small amount of awareness, say the size of a silver dollar. If we draw out the radius of that silver dollar, that’s the “extent” of our knowledge and the size of the surface of our life that touches what we still don’t know — what we know is pretty small. But as the breadth of our knowledge and awareness increases with our practice and study and maturity (hopefully), our awareness is now more like the size of a basketball. And if we draw out that radius, we see the “extent” of our knowledge is much greater than before. BUT, we also see there is now much more of the surface of who we are touching even more of what we still don’t know!
It’s as if to say, the more we come to know, the more we come to know how much more there is yet to know!!
And this is true not simply of science, but of history and what we come to learn about the false or limited ways history was taught, is still taught. It’s also true with what we know about religion, about faith, about our relationships with our partners and spouses, our parenting, our colleagues at work, and even what we come to know about ourselves.
When Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” I wonder if he was being as specific about what that truth is as many presume to know he was. Or was he speaking more about a WAY to truth — a more compassionate and courageous way of being in the world that truly does free us, transforming our lives, our communities, and the world around us? And what if the first step on that path is in recognizing that we have much yet to know and that we are all in this messiness of life together?
This Sunday I’ll be joined by actor Jakie Cabe, Rev DeAndrea Dare, along with Brad Thompson, and the band as we look at Jesus’ “parable of the buried treasure”, a curious koan-like saying, where he compares the place and reality (the “truth”?) of God to an empty field!
Sunday • July 25 • 11:11 am
@ the Historic 512 and Online
“finders weepers, losers keepers”
It’s not what you find and hold on to as much as what you let go of and make space for. . .
See you Sunday!
Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven