Send forth Your light and Your truth; they will lead me; they will bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling-place. (43:3)
The least pleasant conversations on religion that I have had are those with people who are certain beyond a shadow of doubt that they have seen the light and know the Truth. If I may slightly mangle the lyrics from a song in “The Music Man,” — that’s Truth, “with a capital T” and that stands for “Trouble.”
The Psalmist wants certainty. Don’t we all sometimes want to know for certain whether we are making the right decision? We can ask all he wants, but he can’t and shouldn’t have it. Certainty – Truth – is one of God’s names in Jewish tradition. Truth belongs to God. I think we can come close to truth; I think we can search for truth; but I don’t think we were ever meant to capture truth.
For one thing, people who think they have the truth are insufferable. How can they not be, when they’re right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong!? It’s impossible to have a conversation with someone who is convinced that he or she has a lock on the truth. There is no shared learning, there is only the conversational equivalent of the attempt to open up my head, pour in information (the truth), shake, and bake for an hour at 350° until my head feels like it’s about to explode.
Will the truth lead you to the holy mountain? Only if the holy mountain is Everest. If you stay up on that mountain too long your lungs will starve for oxygen and you’ll freeze to death. Rather, it is the search for truth (not truth itself) that leads you to the holy mountain. As long as the search never ends, you can stay on the holy mountain indefinitely. This holy mountain is Zion, not Everest. At the top of the mountain was a place of searching for God’s name, a place where we tried to care for the elusive presence of God.
Back to the Psalmist: If truth is like the light of the sun, we can see it and feel it, but we can never capture it, contain it, and keep it. Keep searching for enlightenment, search all of your life, and you will behold the light of truth.