Drawing Us Forward

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen

We are often afraid of the truth. Rather than experiencing it as a way to experiencing a deeper reality, we see it as something that up ends our world, threatens our sense of security, and even our sense of self. We have found a comfortable place to “fit in,” and we don’t want anyone or anything to disturb it. It’s how we make sense of the world.

Jesus brought the challenge of truth with him and he certainly disturbed the religious status quo of his time. Many church leaders and officials didn’t see how they would fit in to his world view. They had narrowed their vision to see the world through their lenses of laws and rituals and understanding of history that made sense to them and that assured their place in it. Jesus and his truth were a threat and, as we observe on Good Friday, he was murdered for it.

April 10 was the anniversary of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (1846-1955), Jesuit priest, scientist (geologist and paleontologist), theologian, and mystic whose work informed his spirituality. Much of what he wrote and spoke about was unacceptable to some who had the authority to deny his ability to publish, teach, or lecture.

Despite the censure of his work, he remained faithful to his vows of obedience and to the church, as painful and disheartening as it was. After his death, his work was published and has informed much current theology and spirituality. If you are familiar with the work of Richard Rohr, to mention only one, you will have been introduced in some way to Teilhard’s theology of evolution on both a physical and spiritual level and the incarnation of God in all matter.

I have always believed that sincere seekers of truth, whatever their field of study, spiritual path, or human experience, will come eventually to the same place: The Holy One who is Truth.

One night, when my middle daughter was five, I went upstairs to check on her and found her wide awake.

“Mom,” she said, “I don’t know what to do. I love God, but I love science, too. Some people say that people and dinosaurs lived at the same time. That the Bible talks about everything being created at once. But dinosaurs and people didn’t live together. Paleontologists know that.”

She sighed, “I don’t know which to choose, God or science.”

“The good news is you don’t have to choose,” I said. The Bible isn’t a science book. The writers of the Bible were telling stories and sharing history that pointed to the truth as they knew it about God. They were truth seekers.

Scientists are looking for truth, too. Sometimes they have to change what they thought because a new discovery proves it wrong. But they keep observing and experimenting.

All truth leads to God. So, you don’t have to worry. The Bible. Science. Truth. Eventually, they take you to the same place.”

She smiled. “I’m glad,” she said, then rolled over and went to sleep.

Seeking truth and accepting it when it isn’t what’s expected takes openness and humility as well as courage. History is full of examples. In our own time, new discoveries and understandings in many fields challenge the status quo. What do we know of race, of the cosmos, of human psychology, of the effect of human activity on our planet? Truth is always drawing us forward into new territory.

“Conventional truth” confronted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. It made sense to his palm-waving, excited followers, caught up in signs and wonders. Of course, he would be King. It made sense to them, but not to Jesus.

Jesus refused to deny the truth of who he was. He had a message for all people, for all creation that transcended religion, politics and power. His work was to proclaim the radical love of God for all and in all.

That truth was hard for his followers to accept. It certainly turned their world upside down. For some it was too much to accept.

The same is true for us. Jesus’s message and our slowly evolving way of experiencing it is a challenge. It requires us to both let go and to accept. We can never understand God. But we can believe that always, God is drawing all things closer to the Divine Self until one day, we will understand that, mysterious as it is, we are one.

April 04, 2019 by Mary van Balen
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