The elusive captivity of Truth

Several days ago I quoted a Carl Sandburg poem about the elusiveness of Truth, a poem which concluded with, in fact, “My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive in the universe.” (I will quote the whole poem again shortly.)

I’m captivated with the notion that Truth is an “elusive captive.” Sandburg recognized that Truth is a process that is always underway, that it is always present, but it always eludes our grasp when we attempt to own it. This makes me think of something Roland Barthes (I think) said, referring to someone who is “in love with the thing which recedes from the knowledge of it.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” He did not say, “Blessed are those who find righteousness.” The “blessedness” comes as we hunger and thirst for that elusive prize, desperately seeking to own it, only to realize at some point in our life that there is no need to fret and stew, there is only the need to surrender to it. There is only the need to realize that, though we don’t have Truth, it (He) has us and is at work in our lives.

We learn to live with the anxiety of “not-knowing” as with the gift of faith we confidence (and hope) that we are Known. We then proceed with the task of “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (i.e. anxiety and doubt).

Yes, this elusive Truth is actually a captive! We have it and always have had it. We can’t escape it though we can escape its efficacy in our day to day life by desperately trying to avoid the doubt without which faith is not possible. We can opt for a specious certainty which is only a delusional system.

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger tips are in the valleys and shores of universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I reach my hands and play with pebbles of destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I’ve talked to God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading, “Keep off.”
My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive in the universe.

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