Words, words, words, let’s sing it one more time…

The first time we sang the words, I thought about them.  I analyzed them, and thought about them.

The second time, I heard the music of those words put together.  The sounds of the syallable, the rhythm of the way the accents fell.

The third time that we sang that same line, I heard the way the words played with the guitar, with the drum beat, with the singer’s voice, with the voices around me, with my own voice, more eager than particularly good at singing.

And then,  I meant them.  I sang them up to the maker of everything.  I know all this stuff about what faith is really about.  I know that it is not about rules, I know it is not about guilt, shame and obligation.  Yet I so rarely connect God on an emotional level, except to tell him about how upset, angry, or cheated I feel.

And then, the words, repeated as they were, they started to lose their meaning.

Except that they also gained meaning, too.  Because this thing happens, when you sing, or even say, the same words over and over again.  On the one hand, they lose their meaning.  When my attention is not drawn to it, I have this idea that there is some connection between the sounds “huh” and “ah” and “tuh” and the thing I put atop my head.  But it’s arbitrary, those specific sounds, and the idea that they mean a “hat.”


It’s one thing to consider this truth about a single, insignificant word.  But to realize that the connection between every single word and what that word “means”; that gives me some sort of soul-vertigo.  And to realize that written words add a whole other layer or arbitrary-ness; the idea that a cross-shaped letter might mean the “t” sound, and so I can read, and write…  it’s a miracle we can communicate at all.

I think most of us forget this.  I usually think in words, and so I cut out the middle-part.  I forget that the words are just constructs.  I suspect, some times, I am limited by this…  repeating a word, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…  or a bunch of words, a phrase… It connects me to the raw thoughts, something more primal than the words.  For me, this is part of the power of those great times in worshipping through music, where, to an outsider, it just seems like a pointlessly extended bridge, but for me, there is this immediacy, this connection to God…

It’s like we are connected to God, in this really fundamental place.  It is a place more basic than even words.  And so when we can get past the words, operate in that more fundamental place, something magical happens.

Ironically, as I write this, there a bunch of different words that are coming to mind.  I want to fill this page with words connected to this.  Words wondering about the neurology of all this.  Words exploring the meaning or the WORlD…  Words exploring the meaning of the fact that Jesus is described as the word…

But I am working on cultivating silence and quiet, now.  I am working on listening.  Sometimes, it is so good to listen to nothing; other times it is so good to listen to silence.  But also, it is good to listen to people.  And people have so much that they should be saying.  I can learn so much from the people around me.  I wish we were not so afraid to share the truths that weigh on our hearts.

So dear reader, my blog stats tell me that you are out there.  There are some folks who are reading my babblings.  🙂  Leave me some wisdom, leave me some truths.  Comment below with the things that are on your mind.  Perhaps it is some observations of worship.  Perhaps it is about the nature of language, words, and thought.  Maybe it’s just a good recipe for chocolate cake.  Share something, will you?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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