What is the truth of a tree? What’s to wonder about? A tree is a tree. Maybe the truth is that it is an oak tree. Or a pine tree. Or is the truth of a tree that it is in a forest in Colorado, or by a creek in Texas? Is the tree’s truth its age?
Maybe the truth of a tree is the birds that nest in its branches, or the fading of its leaves in autumn. Could it be the sap that runs in its veins, or the growth ring it acquires each year, expanding its girth? Maybe the truth of the tree is the fruit or seeds it produces, or the playground it provides for squirrels. Or the shade it sheds to shelter sensitive plants.
Perhaps the tree’s truth lies in the lumber it produces for building shelters, or the logs it yields for warming fuel. Its truth may emerge in newsprint, carrying other truth to your eyes.
These suggestions are all made from the eyes of an observer. What would the tree claim as its own truth? “I sprouted from an acorn 86 springs ago. I have survived droughts, floods, and kids nailing cleats to my trunk. I survived three onslaughts of gypsy moths, hordes of woodpeckers, boring beetles, and more. I have an ongoing relationship with the cute little maple growing next to me, and appreciate the delicious gratitude the birds drop on my roots.”
So, what is the truth of a tree? All this and more!
If discovering the truth of a tree is this challenging, how much more so the truth of your life.
As I wrote in my journal recently, I had a vision of Truth as a lens, not an entity, which is the way I’ve previously viewed it. Like, “What is the ultimate, core truth of this situation?” Take the example of a child hitting a sibling. Mother asks, “Why did you hit her?” “She kicked my blocks over.” Small children think in fundamentals. But that truth is only part of the overall picture. Why did the sibling kick the blocks over? Why did the child choose the option of hitting rather than tattling? Was one or both of the children tired?
Truth is not a simple thing, and it is not a synonym for confession, or “telling the truth.” To comprehend truth, you need a point of view, and as you consider the situation, you’ll find layer upon layer, one angle after another. Truth takes on the aspect of a diamond splitting a sunbeam into a thousand glittering sparkles.
Now that I’ve built the case that there is no ultimate Truth, I’ll qualify that statement. A few years ago a close friend lay dying of a critical injury. Many of us were baffled that his wife had prolonged his life in various ways for so long. She readily admitted it made little sense. “What is keeping you from letting go,” I asked her after several months.
“I love him, and I can’t imagine life without him.”
That, my friends, is bedrock Truth, stripped down to the core. It doesn’t come from reason, logic, or explanation. There is truth, and there is Truth. Inescapable, unarguable Truth comes from the heart, and when you hear Truth, your heart tells you it is so. Whatever your point of view, whatever boundaries you put around disclosure, writing from the depths of your heart conveys Truth.
See my blog at: Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing