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 — Emily Dickinson
Anticipating the eclipse,
I’m thinking of light and darkness,
Truth and its blinding brightness
The fragility of the human mind,
And seeing through a glass darkly.
I’m thinking about the shadow of myth
That has shrouded humanity
Since the foundation of the world.
I’m thinking of sacrifices to fearsome gods
Of mobs coalescing out of chaos and descending on the vulnerable
To bring peace through the solidarity of collective murder.
I’m thinking of how little has changed through the centuries
As we still send young men and women to die
To bring order out of chaos.
I’m thinking of the distortion that comes
From seeing who we are
Through the lens of comparison to those we are glad not to be.
I’m thinking of the blindness to our own faults
That comes from defining ourselves against others
And the violence that stems
From stumbling around with battering rams in our eyes.
But I’m also thinking that
If we truly knew
How much death and destruction came at our own hands,
If we truly threw off the blinders of self-justification,
If we could see the brutalized bodies
The limbs strewn by our bombs
The flattened homes and the bleak, hopeless desolation ahead
For those who pick up the pieces and carry on…
If we could see the anguish that comes
From being pulled over too many times
And wondering if this traffic stop might be our last few minutes on earth…
If we could see our children’s graves brazenly bulldozed to make room for pipelines
If those of us living on the bright side of the myth of American Exceptionalism
Could see through the eyes of the dead buried on its underside
And the survivors who live with the pain…
If we could know on a cellular level the open wounds and scars they bear on their bodies
And the yearning they feel in their souls…
We would collapse to our knees
Or fall prostrate
The whole truth of white supremacy, American empire, power at the cost of destruction and death
That whole hideous truth…
If we who have wielded it
Or if we who are not conditioned daily
In the exercise of repelling it with our bodies and dreams
If we could feel it completely
It would crush us flat.
Evil blinds us slowly, gradually stealing our sight as our eyes try to adjust to the shadows of lies.
To see it in its fullness is to relinquish sight all together.
But there is a deeper truth.
A truth so dazzling in its brightness,
It can illumine the whole world.
And as much as we need that light to dispel the dark,
Our eyes aren’t ready yet.
Our eyes aren’t ready for the brilliance
Of Love in all its glory
Love in all its light.
For with that love comes the fullness of our humanity
The sudden expansion of our narrow selves over and against others
Into the fullness of the interdividuals we are made to be
Connected with the whole universe
Such love would burst us open
If it took us by surprise.
When our deepest darkness
Is juxtaposed against the light of Love
Threatening to black out our world,
That’s when the light shines brightest…
The Light of Love has never changed,
But our eyes see it most clearly
Against the shadows.
To look straight into God’s fierce Love for the whole world
Is to take in all that we have done to undermine that Love.
It is to look upon the reflections of God we have crucified
With our violence and our lies
From the beginning of time
Because all of God’s children
With all of their scars
Live forever in his light.
We cannot take it all in
Without the protective lens of mercy.
To look upon Love
And not wither in its radiance
Is to look through the lens of forgiveness.
But beware the false brands!
Cheap grace is no grace at all.
The forgiveness that excuses the worst within us
Without gradually opening us to change
Is no forgiveness at all.
The forgiveness that exonerates
Without penetrating to our hearts
Changing us from within
And emanating outward in our actions
Is just another instrument of darkness.
Don’t look at the light of God’s Love
With anything less than the real thing.
Don’t fall for knock-off brands.
As the shadows of hate gather,
Love shines ever brighter.
I look to the light
Through the sunglasses of mercy.
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