Historical truths

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. -Psalm 51:6

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said that everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Recently, I found myself reconnecting with second cousins I hadn’t heard from in decades. It started on social media, where it seems most interactions occur nowadays, with a throwback post to a memory from my childhood. As the conversation flowed, our attention turned to both beloved family from our past and  distinct memories of visits and events. We discussed our parents and grandparents, most of whom are long gone. We analyzed situations with adult mindsets, even as we recounted the events witnessed with our child eyes. Somewhere along the way, our recollections drew us into the deeper parts of our personal histories and suddenly what began as a quick memory struck a sore nerve.

As one of our cousins expressed hurt and lashed out at our conversation, the rest of us grew silent. The embittered post, full of raw emotion, echoed in cyber space for hours unanswered. I lie in bed later that night thinking about truth, and how our truths are formed. In many ways, these words from 1800 years ago might as well have been spoken in my kitchen over a cup of tea: here we are as children all grown up sharing perspectives and opinions, all of which came from our parents. Parents that were quite different in the way they lived their lives and how they raised their kids (us).

My injured cousin wanted the truth she knew to be fact. I understand that because in discussing scripture we fall into the same trap. We want our interpretations of The Word to be fact. And, more often than not, that fact is more about our own perspectives than intractable truth. Perhaps this social media exercise in historical criticism was really a call to self examination. Our attention needs to turn to God, who is not concerned with earthly facts but true wisdom. King Solomon, when confronted with two mothers, didn’t ask for DNA tests or physical examinations- he didn’t even call a witness. He ordered the child divided and waited for revelation in the form of a love that transcends personal need. That kind of wisdom cannot be learned, it is gifted by experience with the Divine.

Living Lord, I call upon you to fill me with wisdom that speaks your truth, not mine. Amen.

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