AN OLD MAN RAMBLES

by Paul Kelly

 

 

There is no such thing as Truth.

 

Truth is a generic noun, an abstract concept to characterize facts, events, people, statements of theirs in speeches, articles, books.

 

One day our great professor of law, Warren Abner Seavey, exploded at a sophomoric student arguing: “But, sir, those aren’t true facts.”

The Professor roared, ” There is no such thing as a TRUE fact. A fact is a fact. There is no such thing as a TRUE horse. A horse is a horse. How can a fact be a false fact? How can a horse be a false horse? Trojan horse in Troy? Oh, balderdash, that was a wooden one, as a fact. Young man, just give me the facts of this case. Now.”

 

Let me add: fiction is fiction. Ever hear of true fiction, or false fiction? Ever hear of true truth, or false truth? And, finally, truth is stranger than fiction. Truly.

 

Another fellow, politician, brute, coward, asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, common folk have been asking the same question ever since. Even scholastic philosophers stumble on their answers. For an overall view of what the word ‘ TRUTH” has been taken to mean over the centuries, go to Wikipedia on Truth, well worth reading, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth, where you will find:

 

The word truth has a variety of meanings, from honestygood faith, and sincerity in general, to agreement with fact or reality in particular.[1] The term has no single definition about which a majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree, and various theories of truth continue to be debated. There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth; what things are truthbearers capable of being true or false; how to define and identify truth; the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjectiverelativeobjective, or absolute. This article introduces the various perspectives and claims, both today and throughout history.

 

Be not dismayed, a lot of people who got through Accounting I often think that they have discovered TRUTH, when all they learned was how to count, add, and subtract. Simplistic but needed in business careers. Going deeper into levels II and III added multiplication and division with a touch of algebra and calculus to make their work look real mysterious to the uneducated, to whom they proclaim, “We have discovered TRUTH.”  Pontius Pilate bemoans, “Why didn’t I ever take Accounting in school?”

 

After several years in the Society of Jesus, I was invited into a group of former Jesuits, who shared much rambling in their website. It was a given that we were allowed to be literate, precisely because we had been away for a time. There is no mayhem in our blogs. Many are highly intelligent people. Each one can read and write and even do arithmetic. Several are published authors. Many have doctorate degrees and teach others. Almost everyone has a Master’s degree, a pretty commonplace degree for initials after a name; comes almost automatically by lasting for a while in the Society.

 

We call ourselves “Ours”. For example, one of Ours wrote, “When it comes to religion and specifically spirituality, everybody’s grandmother thinks she knows the recipe.” That could easily be the wisest and most humble remark ever made in our group, realizing that grandmothers handed their wisdom to their children, our mothers and fathers. They knew far more about religion and spirituality than some pipsqueak squeaking, “I have found TRUTH. Come listen to me. Everybody else is wrong. They do not understand. Only I do. Come, come.”

 

And nobody comes, not even Pilate.

 

My Dad never got beyond the third grade. He was a fabulous father, wise, deep, consistent, fearless, and a lot of fun to be with. Mom was an elementary school teacher with a college education of sorts in Prince Edward Island, Canada, a/k/a PEI. She taught me how to read before I went to kindergarten. Loving, caring parents, they welcomed me home when I left the Society and kept on being Mom and Dad. Their care and love for family helped me then and have lasted until the present. I’m an orphan now. On my own and mingled with Jean’s for our own children and grandchildren.  Life goes on. Even after leaving what could have been a lifetime. We see now.

 

Religion and spirituality comes only from personal experience. It is not in books, no matter how great the writer is in his or her own unique spirituality. And here, among our companions, we are people who spent years in Jesuit formation in Ignatian spirituality, branched out into others, and have the humility and love to sit down quietly and write about our personal experiences. We do this without necessarily quoting famous authors, because we have made them our own. Ours have gone far, far beyond Accounting Level III.

 

There is a resemblance to the Principle and Foundation with which Saint Ignatius begins the Spiritual Exercises. You begin by imagining a bunch of questions, as I used to do after the Long Retreat as a novice. Later I followed this practice after innumerable eight-day or weekend retreats over 70 years since. At 88, let me offer a bit of back-and-forth — a recipe sort of. OK?

 

Do you read?

-Umm.
Repeat. Do you read?

-Yes, that’s twice, Sir.

Are you in trouble?

-No.
How did you get in trouble?

-I’m not, but when I was, it was because of me.
If you were in trouble, did you seek help?

-Sometimes.

When you did, did help come?

-Sometimes.

Did you accept it

-Sometimes.
What is the character of your consciousness?

-Conscious.
Are you conscious?

-Off ’n on.
Do you have a self?

-No. I am myself. Not a question of having’ but being.

Do you know who you are?

-Yes.
Do you know what you are doing?

-Yes.
Do you know how to love?

-Yes.

Are you loved?

-Yes.
Do you hate?

-No.

Do you love?

-Yes.

Do you understand me?

-Yes, but sometimes you talk funny.
Are you impertinent?

-Sometimes.

Do you know who you are?

-Yes

Who are you?

 

–       I Are

Obeying those

who write of You

I sit within

wander wonder

silent under

a whirling roar

in the vortex

of solitude.

 

I am alone.

A quiet ache

for duotude

brushes skin

of tepid soul

a silver touch

touchless within

empty clouds

of nowhere

now here.

 

I am one.

“He is. I am,”

Your unknown

author writes.

Are I two

You me two

two in me

need now two

to be alone

 

I are two.

Amen then

come to me

into me

come become us

one with each

in the within

of me and You

we one yet two.

 

I are.

 

*****************

A former Jesuit, Paul Kelly notes that he rarely sought to be published, Yet he boasts happily of his more famous family: Brother Kevin, Drama Critic for Boston Globe for forty years, four sons with successful diverse careers, including professional football coach, Chip. Married to wife Jean, Paul is a retired New Hampshire attorney, and resides with Jean in Maine.