I’ve been reflecting this spring on the nature of belief and the idea that truth is incarnational: not until we experience a proposition for ourselves do we really believe its truth. Often we end up rejecting the existing proposition altogether and replacing it with a different, life-tested truth.
This occurred to me again as I looked down the path I take on my morning walk, and realized how misleading it might appear to those not walking with me. I could have snapped a photo of this path in November and the landscape would have looked exactly the same: leafless and barren. Based on a “true” but limited perception (a photo), one could reasonably conclude that the picture was taken during a season of death and drudgery.
But stepping into the photo, I experience something altogether different as I smell the spring air, hear the birds chirp, and feel the warm April breeze. My truth—based on personal experience and a fuller understanding than what can be deduced from a snapshot (a proposition)—tells me that this is, in fact, a season of hope and renewal.
I first began thinking about this during a recent seminar on women in development. When the facilitator asked the (few!) men in the room why they had a more developed view of gender, I remember thinking to myself, “Because truth is incarnational.” My former truth included an elevated but slightly unequal view of women, based largely on propositions gleaned from my religious tradition. But stepping into the picture, experiencing life as the father of four girls with incredible, innate capacities—brilliant, creative, and aware—I was forced to exchange my proposition with a new, life-tested truth: that men and women are ontologically equal, that each gender reveals the nature of God; that a slight against women is an affront to the Creator and that even the subtlest discriminations have profound effects on the self-worth of women.
I see and treat women differently now because of my daughters. Truth is incarnational.