In today’s poem, the image which really stood out to me was: “the ripening apple never / to fall from the topmost branches / of truth’s tree”. In our garden we have some apple trees. They have been a bit neglected over the years. They produce loads of apples, but the one that produces the best apples has grown quite out of control, and many of the apples are far above where I (or even my much taller neighbour!) can reach, even with a ladder. Each year we watch the apples ripen, pick the ones we can reach, and then go on staring up at the ones out of reach as they either fall to the ground, shrivel on the branch, or are eaten by birds and squirrels.
I love the idea of some part of truth, some part of the truth of who God is, always remaining out of reach, like those apples. In all our yearning and thirsting after truth, there will always be something left that alludes us. Which is just as it should be. Indeed, it is just as Jesus promised it would be: “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth.” That process of the Spirit leading us into all truth is ongoing, and it always will be – in this world, at least.
There are still truths we cannot bear. There are still apples just out of reach. And that is how we know that the truth is bigger than us, beyond us, that the truth of God is more than we can fully comprehend. Acceptance of that – acceptance of un-knowing, acceptance that in God we find something more than we can grasp – leads us to yearn to know God more fully, even as we know we cannot know God completely. And that acceptance opens us to the possibilities of God who is bigger, wilder, freer than we can imagine.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.