Words

 Today’s guest blogger is John Cuyler, Pastor of Storrs Community Church in Coventry, Connecticut since 1994. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Spirituality from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  John and his wife Carmel have three grown children.

I listened attentively as President Obama and Governor Romney sought to inspire American voters and last week we were sobered as rage flamed across the Middle East, ignited by a video mocking the Prophet Mohammad. No doubt about it; words are powerful.  

 

On one such night I lay in bed, thinking about words in general and my words in particular.   wondered: what if the endless stream of words filling newspapers, tweets and broadcasts were more than vowels and consonants forming syllables that we use to assert or express ourselves?  What if words were also characterized by different kinds of sounds like buzzes or hums?  Some words would chirp as a meadowlark, others whine as an irritating mosquito?

 

Then I began to wonder what noise my own words would make? Which ones would be discordant and which ones pleasant? It occurred to me that a little more forethought before I speak might be in order, particularly about the things that I have an urgent need to say.

 

What is it that I want to say and why is it important that I say it?  What is it that I hope my words will accomplish?  How will my words be heard?  These words that I need so desperately to speak–will they benefit the other?  What prayer do I want to accompany my words so that they will be received in the spirit in which I send them?

 

I began to imagine my words, all of them, the important theological words, the words I text on my now-outdated iPhone, the words I speak to my wife, my kids and my friends, the serious words, the happy words, the joking and trivial words.What if all these words actually took up physical space? I imagined that words I spoke began to take shape in the room. The louder I spoke and the more emphasis I put on them, the bigger my words became.

 

There in the room was a huge, heaping pile of my words.And I imagined that all these words sat on a golden plate dangling by chains on an ancient scale.  On the other side of the scale hung an identical plate but with just one word—Love.  I wonder which would weigh more.

  • Nick

    Excellent post, John. I’ve been thinking about words this week as well. I like the image you share about the scale, and “love” being on one side.

    You may know of John O’Donohue and his thinking about words. Incidentally, I just read this yesterday. This other John says, “It is interesting to look at your language and the words that you tend to use to see if you can hear a stillness or silence. One way to invigorate and renew your language is to expose yourself to poetry. In poetry, your language will find cleansing illumination and sensuous renewal.”

    And O’Donohue opens the prologue to his book Anam Cara in this way, “It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits. A world lives within you. No one else can bring you news of this inner world. Through the opening of the mouth, we bring out sounds from the mountain beneath the soul. These sounds are words. The world is full of words…Each day, our tribe of language holds what we call the world together. Yet the uttering of the word reveals how each of us relentlessly creates. Everyone is an artist. Each person brings sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.”

    Wishing you all the best John. I’m grateful for your friendship and wisdom and presence.

    Peace

  • Wayne

    The truth does not yield to the pressures of time or flex to accommodate changes in society. It remains unchanged regardless of our feelings toward it. The Truth in word has all the power that it did upon the creation of the world. All other words are given attention by people for a time and they derive their power from that attention until they are forgotten. We should weigh our words against how they align with the truth that has been revealed. Love is only one of the weights tipping that scale, but one that is a powerful measure of the lasting value of our words. The could move forward if it weighed its words and actions as you do.


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