Approached intellectually, the task is impossible. There are truths of fact, meaning, and value. At the high end, we can speak of truths of science, philosophy, and spiritual experience. But the intellect of itself cannot integrate and unify those truths in a human life precisely because the intellect remains on the levels of truths—propositions, statements, judgments. The conscientious intellect can never satisfy itself that it is adequately touching all the relevant bases; after all, everything is connected directly or indirectly with everything else, and there are always more truths on any level to integrate and unify in daily life: a staggering task. Temporary satisfactions are quickly subverted by concern about new mountains to be scaled.
Biography helps. We can read evidence that it is possible for a human being to stay in touch with material fact, intellectual meaning, and spirit value. Just knowing that someone else has done it is encouraging.
I used to say that truth has a spiritual core, a scientific periphery, and a philosophic bridge between them. I used to speak of scientific truth and philosophical truth. Those ways of speaking have their meaning, but now I would clarify. The “periphery” of truth comprises truths of fact. The bridge between science and religion comprises truths of philosophy. Truth in the full sense is divine and embraces all truth, every truth.
Truth is a living spiritual reality. Truths participate in that. Any great scientific or philosophical discovery comes with great joy. At its core, that joy is a response to beauty; it is a spiritual experience of the beauty of truth, and all truth is divine. The beauty of truth is its spiritual flavor.
And divine truth is good; and the beauty of goodness is part of the beauty of truth. The experience of living the truth does not precede realizations in the intellectual and material realms of beauty and goodness.
Truth is a gift of God and cannot be frozen and dead, abstracted away from the life of the creative whole.
The key to living the truth is to embrace truth as a divine, living, and spiritual reality—more a who than a what. We personalize truth in our lives and thereby reveal the God who mercifully expresses realities beyond our ken in ways that are meaningful to the human mind.
In order to carry the realization of living the truth beyond the time of focused communion with God into the “rest” of life, for example, at mealtime, it helps to recall the everywhere presence of the Spirit of God and open to receive an increase in the direction of that revelation of the earth as filled with the glory of God. Then giving thanks ascends as an experience of cosmic truth.
When we break through to the experience of living the truth, we find that we still need to take care on material and intellectual levels; but that caring does not remove us from the boundless envelope, canopy, embrace of truth. That caring energizes our exploration of the cosmic body of truth.
I take it that this portrait by Rembrandt of the apostle Paul in prison symbolizes not intellectual frustration but divine caring.