This dialogue comes from Shea Wigham’s sermon in the third episode of HBO’s True Detective. The full video can be seen here.
You was blind to him as your footprints in the ashes, but he saw you. Beneath every disguise, every gesture false or true, every silent resentment, he saw you in those dark corners. He heard you, oh my brothers: He heard those thoughts.
Now, I’m here today to talk to you about reality. I’m here to tell you about what you already know. That this, all this, is not real. It is merely the limitation of our senses, which are meager devices. Your angers and your griefs and your separations are a fevered hallucination once suffered by us all, we prisoners of light and matter. And there we all are, our faces pressed to the bars, looking out, looking up, asking the question, begging the question: Are you there? Would that we had ears to hear because every moment, every now, is an answer. Every beat of every heart, every second of every minute, every minute of every hour, every hour of every day, is an answer. And the answer is YES. YES. YES.
Listen. Your sorrows pin you to this place. They divide you from what your heart knows, and there are a lot of good hearts out there, I’m looking out there and I’m seeing a lot of good hearts out there. And we bandage our soft selves in hardness, in anger. You are a stranger to yourself, and yet he knows you. And when your hard heart made you like unto the stone and broke you from his body, which is the stars and the wind between the stars, he knew you. He knew you yet and forever. Because I ask you, how could the father forget his children? How could the world forget itself? It doesn’t matter that the children do not understand what they are, it doesn’t matter that the world thinks it is many different things rather than one: Him. Doesn’t matter.
My sad and joyous and frightened and courageous brothers and sisters, I want you to do something for me. I want you to close your eyes. I want you to close your eyes and let your chests swell as his lungs fill his portion in us, in each other, every single one of you sitting here today, each other, I want you to listen for that answer. If ever your sorrow becomes such a burden that you forget yourself, forget this world, I want you to remember this truth. It’s as indelible as the sun in the sky and the ground beneath your feet: This world is a veil, and the face you wear is not your own.
The shape of our true face is not yet known to us, and so I press my eyes to the bars and I look out and I look up and I ask the question. No, I beg the question: Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, your arms open and close and the echoes of my life could never contain a single truth about you. You move the feather and the ash, you touch the leaf with his flame, you lent your soul to an infinity of atomic creation and of it I am less than a drop in the ocean.
So how then can I know sorrow? How then can I know despair? Does the rain know sorrow? Does the grass and the mountains, the beautiful mountains, know despair? Such is not his province, and so not be our purpose. Be in him, of him, and then know peace. That is his gift to us. Our birthright. In the end we will find ourselves at the beginning, and will at last know ourselves, and our true faces will weep in his light. And those tears, those tears will feel like a warm rain. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.