“The Truth Told Slant”

From “Poem 1129,” by Emily Dickinson (via A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer)

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise


“Noticing,” the act which I took as title and frame for this work (mostly, I should admit, because I wanted to start blogging again in a new way and wanted to put a title over it), is, of course, only half the work.

The other half is deciding how to tell what you see. And the more I’ve dug into the practice of blogging (and, this month, my bookshelf of readings that matter), the more I’ve found how deeply I’m influenced by metaphor. From poets like Mary Oliver and Emily Dickinson to prose artists like Brian Doyle and Norman Maclean to preachers like Walter Brueggemann and teachers like Seth Godin, the authors whose work has grooved itself most deeply into my own subconscious are all masters of metaphor.

As anyone reading or watching the news knows, approaching the truth head-on can quickly become too much, even when it’s a relatively superficial truth. You can’t catch the capital-T Truth that way. Only by sidling up to it by the slanted path of metaphor can you get close enough to notice something surprising. That’s the handle you grasp, and then try to describe.