During this Advent’s sermon series, titled “Tell it Slant,” we’re taking as our point of departure a poem by Emily Dickinson (see below). The poem “Tell all the truth” reflects on the idea that some truths are too overwhelming to be received “head on” or “all at once.” In eight crisp lines, Dickinson observes that “The Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind —”.
What is she getting at? While I don’t know all that Dickinson intended, “Tell all the truth” appears to me to be a meditation on the Incarnation of Jesus. When it came time for God to reveal himself to humankind, God chose a subtle path, being born into a humble family in a small town in a backwater region. He challenged our human love affair with bedazzlement, taking on the form of a servant and ultimately giving his life as “a ransom for many.” May this four part series serve as an invitation for us to open our eyes to God’s hidden ways of coming into our world and into our lives.
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