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Let our legacy of beauty, goodness, truth be self-evident

by Tribune News Service | November 26, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
The deep grandeur of Lake Chelan is a natural example of self-evident beauty. (Dreamstime/TNS)

"Lorna" was 102 years old when she died. A member of her church congregation from childhood, over the decades she had become one of their matriarchs in faith and ministry.

Lorna's legacy of gentleness, kindness and grit was well known across several generations of family and church friends. She was quite short, but her stature was upright, solid and dependable.

As Lorna's pastor back in the day, it was my responsibility and privilege to officiate her funeral.

I went through my usual planning with the family, church musicians and worship leaders to create a ceremony that would properly honor this lifelong woman of God, celebrate key aspects of her story and commit her into the eternal care and keeping of her beloved Maker, Savior and Sustainer.

All was in order and the funeral service was proceeding well ... until it came time for my funeral eulogy -- the "good words" -- that in this case could not possibly cover over 37,000 days of life and living. I was prepared with my written remarks before me (and so I could give a copy to the family, as was my custom).

However, I looked down at the pages, took a breath, looked up at the many mourners of this beloved woman's death, and confessed, "Lorna's eulogy is self-evident in her lived legacy, would you all agree?"

Everyone smiled and nodded.

I continued, "What could I possibly add that isn't already known? I have memories written here, but there really isn't anything more that needs to be said." So I didn't.

Self-evidence. When something speaks for itself. When the evidence is inherent.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," wrote the colonial authors in their Declaration of Independence from English rule.

While my article is not an epistemological treatise, I am thinking about any number of self-evident aspects of our common sentient experiences, especially beauty, goodness and truth.

The deep grandeur of upper Lake Chelan or our many coulees, the glory of seasonal colors in gardens, parks or mountains, the awesome power of ocean waves crashing on a rocky Oregon shore, the glowing transitions at dawn and dusk -- these are natural examples of self-evident beauty.

There is also self-evident goodness including acts of kindness that may or may not make the news, affirming words that plant seeds of hope, aspirations toward justice and peace, and applications of knowledge and creativity that make a positive, productive difference.

But is there self-evident truth ("the property of being in accord with fact or reality," according to Wikipedia)? Which facts and whose reality? Is there common truth, or is all truth conditioned by experience, context, and history?

If something seems true for me, MUST it be true for you?

Many will cite sacred scriptures or philosophical documents as their ground of truth, often followed by differing interpretations, diverging applications and profound mistrust.

Our path forward: constructive discourse or destructive conflict?

Perhaps what is self-evident is that we all have more work to do in manifesting Beauty, Goodness and Truth. Let's keep at it.

©2021 Tri-City Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Print Headline: Let our legacy of beauty, goodness, truth be self-evident

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