I am a word man so it may surprise you to hear me say we need more times of wordlessness.
Ever since that first primitive man grunted a sound that another person understood and it spread to the other caves in the region, we have erroneously thought every sound we make needs to be shared and understood by others. We have undervalued that dimension of our being that works better without words.
For example, we are always saying we love someone too much to describe our feelings in words. Yet we spend billions every year buying words in card racks in an attempt to say what we have already declared to be beyond the power of words. When we give that card we are reminded of its futility. We have already declared our love to be beyond the reach of words.
Maybe flowers would be a better way to express such a beautiful feeling. By giving a bouquet, we convey our love with beauty rather than words. Isn’t beauty a better way to express beauty?
A massage might be a more powerful wordless way to express the love you feel for someone. A tender human touch can say more about the honey dripping from your heart than a ton of cards.
When I was seven or eight years old I walked by Chickamauga Creek for an hour picking different wildflowers. I dipped a mason jar in creek water, arranged my flowers as only a boy might do and carried the arrangement to my mother. A million words cannot describe the expression I saw on her face when I walked in the kitchen with my love offering. Until the end of her life she talked about it. She said, “No one has ever said ‘I love you’ more beautifully than you did that day with your little Mason jar full of wildflowers.”
The expression on her face that day was fleeting but it is forever etched in my mind. If you asked me to try to describe it, I would be wordless. All I can do is to close my eyes and let that look expand my very soul. It was such a simple act but the memory is too awesome for words.
That expansion of the soul is what we are going for when we create wordless times. Be careful about talking away such awesome moments. You can waste the beauty on the wind like blowing a dandelion in a hundred directions. Words can actually deaden the soulfulness of some of life’s peak moments. They can pour cold water on a warm heart.
This is why I prefer a moment of silence to prayer in schools. A prayer composed of words can be designed to indoctrinate. Silence gives one the opening to find meanings and beauties unique to the individual. Awe is as far from brainwashing as the east is from the west.
The fact that we equate words with prayer demonstrates the shallowness of our culture. Instead of posting “thou shalt nots” in our courthouses, why not post, “Consider the sacredness of our Constitution and all the truths that can free humanity from oppression.” People might stop and spend a wordless, silent moment contacting truth and beauty in their inward parts. The reason we do not do that is that we cannot resist an opportunity to cram our little handful of words down someone’s throat.
There will always be times for words. The bottom line for me is to use words when I they convey the essence I desire. For other times, try a moment of silence or some beautiful substitute that fits the occasion.
Keep a list of your experiences too beautiful for words. Do not try to describe them. Just a word or two to trigger the memory.
Consider these things the Mason jar with the bouquet you keep for your own self.
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