The first and second truth

Let us talk about the first and second truth.

The painter sets out with a vision for their picture. This is the first truth and the energy to start.

But soon the truth withers, it isn’t enough, the wheels come off the venture.

And in the creative crisis, and from the disturbance experienced, emerges a deeper and more powerful current.

This is the second truth.

I was once told to begin sermon preparation on Monday for the following Sunday.

‘The first truth will appear soon enough, but you need to get beyond that, Simon. By Friday, the second truth will have emerged,’ they said. ‘The first truth is interesting; the second truth is life-changing.’

Pilate famously asked ‘What is truth?’ – but did not stay for an answer and it is the same today.

Someone says, ‘Simon – you did a day with us last year on human growth. Could you do it again this year – but in an hour?’

We want our answers quickly, which really means, we just want the first truth. The trouble is, though, if we don’t get beyond this, everyone is wasting their time.

The first truth is often presented as the solution. The second truth is the realisation that the solution doesn’t solve anything. It has been too quickly imposed.

The first truth can be arrived at in the head, and leaves little disturbed; the second truth is experienced in the body, and may leave much disturbed.

The first truth merchants can be smart, but they can also be glib. (Politicians, lobby groups and preachers take note.)

The first truth is a headline with no roots to grow into anything. It’s information, it’s slogan, it’s declaration – but it’s not life.

Pilate asked ‘What is truth?’ – but did not stay for an answer.

We can, however.

The first truth is a doorway – not a destination.

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