“WORDS carry much spiritual power,” says Trevor Hudson in Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days.
Yes, they do. They are loaded with potential energy, either anabolic or catabolic: they either build up or break down. Do we know this when we deliver them? Are we aware of the power we wield? When we, as people of the Word, take to the podium to articulate our opinion or point of view, we’d do well to choose our words carefully. Special caution to those among us who have been especially gifted as articulate. Those who, because of particular fluency, are able to “talk a good story” or “spin a good yarn” must be especially diligent.
And how about those words we don’t utter, but our body speaks?
My body articulates all sorts of things about me before my mouth speaks a word. My posture tells you how I’m feeling. My demeanor tells you what I’m planning. My physique says a lot about what I have been doing lately. And when I do speak up, do I argue with what my body says about me? Because when there’s a disagreement, my body always speaks the truth — even if I would rather it didn’t. My body doesn’t lie. It’s articulate, that body of mine.
What a wonderful example our body gives us. Healthy joints that associate smoothly allow us to move in healthy ways. In fact they insist on it. To remain healthy, we have to move our bodies through their whole range of motion. Stiffness warns us we need to get up and get going, gently, respectfully, while honoring our age, ability and agility.
But how completely cool is it that our way of moving is uniquely ours. When I see a familiar figure walking in the distance, I immediately know who it is just by his amble or her stroll. Our bodies are like poetry, unique in the writing and unique in their expression. We can’t be another’s expression, nor they, ours. But together, we understand.
Long ago on the first Pentecost, the crowd who gathered was amazed that each heard the one speaking in his own native language. (Acts 2:6-8) In our day, we need to speak — each in our own voice — and to listen to the other in theirs. Who but God could design our very bodies as a means of translation? of understanding? of common expression? as a means for ordering our world?
When the spoken word gets jumbled and the written word is dust, how ingenious that our lives may open a conversation to what our Lord came to show us and initiate the task our Lord left for us: to be His expression in the company of friends and family, in the community of neighbors and colleagues, among associates who don’t know Him and even among those who’ve never met Him.
Knowing this, let us speak what builds up: you are welcome, you are needed, you are desirable, you are loved. I am listening.
Words are always more than words.