Truth is ingloriously messy and we must walk a fine line between the bravado to speak it loud and bold-faced and the humility to whisper even when our voice burns in our throats.
We cannot help but infuse life and God and church with so much of our subjective truth it results in a semblance of all that truly matters. Because don’t hear me wrong, truth matters, but sometimes the way we do truth is like a train wreck, casualties piling up along the way as everything derails and cars are pulled from the tracks and sent hurling.
And I think of those slain in the process and I wonder at Jesus who never backed down from being truth and wasn’t always a hit in social circles, but who was living grace to all who knew they needed it.
And sometimes I read a post and my eyes make the fatal mistake of skimming down to the comments and I see it. The violent assault we call truth, the bashing and splaying wide of innards from those who dared write their story.
And I think if we knew more, if we cupped steaming coffees and leaned into the fire and caught eyes that had lived a thousand hard days, carrying burdens and dragging with them the pain of this life, the hopes that died a slow and brutal death, we would pause and hold our tongues, and lean in a bit and our truth would sound like understanding and we wouldn’t be blinding our brothers and sisters while trying to remove their insidious specks.
We wouldn’t wrestle with holding them down and pinning their limbs so they don’t spread untruths while trying to pry their lids wide, jabbing at them while they squirm. Yelling, “See, dammit! Why won’t you see? Your sins are so clear!”
We would hold their souls gently, knowing that to set anything caged free, requires the gentlest touch. Lest we all be damaged in the process.
On our wedding day, my husband leaked tears down his face, down into the collar of his starched white shirt, every wedding picture he fought to keep his eyes open. The guests cooed at his apparent sensitivity and depth of emotion. But I knew better.
He had gone camping and the tiniest speck of coral imbedded itself on the winds of the sea and carried its way into his eye. He flushed it with water and we held mirrors up in the light, his reflection watery. We all peered in close looking for a way to spot and dislodge it but could see nothing more than angry red capillaries weaving across the white of his eye.
It wasn’t until the next morning, when his tears had already bathed me and he lay still in the breezy morning, our marriage bed splashed with gauzy sunlight, that I leaned in to swipe a damp cloth along his lashes and set the speck free.
And sometimes it is just this way.
Sometimes the photographer snaps a thousand shots and we hang suspended in our less than perfect picture. Eyes straining against the hot Hawaii sun, handkerchief soaked and swiping furiously between each frame. And yet, this was our day. Our process, our story. It took time to work its way loose. All those sloppy tears were washing his vision free.
And sometimes we see the need, the speck is there. And we see clearly.
Armed with truth and light and in our haste to aid, we falter when we realize that trust comes first, they need to lay their head in our lap, ease into our palms even as the pain burns, trust as we hold their lids wide to flush it out. Stay still under the close inspection and tender touch. They need to believe we see by crystalline light and not dim reflection. They need to know we are not trying to blind them but to give them sight, to set them free. And we need to know when to let the tears wash and work and bathe them in truth awaiting the time when it will flow freely.