Thursday, April 24, 2008

False and True

“Nothing human’s not a broth of false and true.”
“All’s lost. All’s found.”
—Godric, Frederick Buechner

The world of the gospel is often one of contradictions—lose your life in order to save it; the greatest is the servant of all; blessed are the ones who mourn. To grow a faith that is complex enough to sustain impossible questions, I often find myself lingering in the place of these contradictions. Rejecting the black-and-white answers of extremes, but standing in that place where I hold both things in my hand and consider how they can both be true at once, I find a kind of energy in the creative tension that these opposites produce.

In the midst of sorrow, there is also joy. In the midst of despair, there is also hope. In the midst of brokenness, there is also reconciliation. All these things can be true in equal measure and often at the very same time. There are moments I am brought to my knees with the weight of loss, and in the very next moment I find myself laughing at the lighthearted teasing of a friend. Moments I am filled with the unassailable mystery of the silence of God, and then again I am so convinced of his care for me that I am reduced to tears of praise and the only words I can choke out are “thank you, thank you…” Moments I am filled with grief at what seems an unredeemable break, yet at the same time I am grateful for the person I no longer see.

To live in the midst of these contradictions is the essence of what it is to be human. Frederick Buechner’s old saint Godric sums it up in these words: “Nothing human’s not a broth of false and true.” We live in the place where sin and sickness are mixed up in equal measure with holiness and grace. And in the midst of realizing everything we’ve lost, we discover with the joyous surprise of grace, all that we have at once and forever found.

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