Speaking of Life 2035 | Slow-Release Truth
Tell all the truth but tell it slant.
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
This is Emily Dickinson’s poem 1263. She commends us to sometimes speak indirectly, especially when sharing the deeper truths. Rather than always speaking plainly, our minds seem to remember facts better and get more out of them when they are embedded in a story.
Think of this:
- If someone is sacrificially kind, you might call them a “Good ______.” (Samaritan)
- If someone’s child is wayward and rebellious, you might call them a “_____ son.” (Prodigal)
- Bonus challenge: A goal or purchase you gave a lot of time/energy/money to is the “______ of great price.” (Pearl)
Jesus knew our brains work this way. So much so that these mini-stories he shared have gone viral in our language and sometimes we don’t even remember where they came from. He set these stories down like slow-release truth that has been potent and healing through the centuries.
Sometimes realities are so transformative and powerful that they can’t be described directly. Think of the way a scientist looks at the sun or an eclipse, the light is so blinding that it has to be reflected and is only safely seen indirectly.
Think back to some of the most meaningful truths you’ve heard. Were they often lyrics to a song? Lines to a poem? Scenes from a favorite movie?
Like these mini-stories, Jesus told 46 parables in all, covering everything from forgiveness to his identity as the Son of God. Yet his greatest narrative was to enter our story. Instead of scrapping humanity and starting over, he entered our story and redeemed it. We are still learning what that means; I don’t believe we will ever understand the full extent in this life—slow-release truth.
God could have sent another flood, cleared the table of us or made us into choice-less robots. Instead he entered our story, made himself a character in this epic he is writing. You are part of the slow-release truth.
I’m Greg Williams speaking of life.