Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011.12.28 Truth and Fact

A huge ceiling to floor oil painting of a rose, painted by Mary Daly RSM, hangs in the chapel of Mercy Center in Madison, CT. It serves as a reredos.

I have often gazed at its multi-petaled beauty and thought it an icon of the sacred heart, roomy enough to enfold the cosmos into its soft velvety bosom.

On one retreat I decided to dissect a real rose I had picked from the garden. I operated on it with caution, care and respect, as an good autopsy-ist would. I wanted to know how many petals there actually were in my cosmic image of divine love.

There were a disappointing 53 petals in my big fat red rose. I laughed to think how easy it is to align truth and fact as if they were the same phenomenon.

Of course I didn’t expect the number of rose petals to be infinite but I’d hoped for more than 53. The fact was this rose had 53 petals. The truth for me was its appearance of petaled profusion suggested something much more than its parts.

Fact is material knowledge. Truth partakes of a transcendent dimension, pointing beyond its literal manifestation. Facts, however, are the necessary vehicles of truth.

When I used to read Goodnight Moon to my young children we all knew the facts: bunnies don’t talk, have bedtime stories read to them, or sleep in beds.

Beyond facts lay truth: a good story well told makes everyone feel hopeful, can fill us with love and respect for all things, from a large glowing moon to a simple soothing bedtime ritual. Truth can replace fear with peace. Truth comes through facts.

ONE baby is born in a measly manger and kings think he’s a messiah in the making. All mothers think that of every babe, but the Magi? Story is fact + truth.

TRUTH AND FACT NEED TO STAY TOGETHER THOUGH FOR THEY ARE AS LOVE-MAKING AS TWO IN A BED...OR ON AN ARK. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER INTO LIFE.

Fact gives truth a leg to stand on. Truth puts a bloom on the cheek of fact lest its concrete gray complexion fails to inspire.