Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Field of Words

There is an old hymn called O Sacred Head Now Wounded, the fourth verse of which reads - “What language shall I borrow to thank Thee dearest friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?”
What language shall I borrow? I think the author of those words was overwhelmed with the task of communicating something so astounding and so beautiful, he had no words for it, no words that could come close to expressing what was in his heart. There are times when we, as writers, have no words, when things overwhelm, either for good or bad, and we cannot write them.

In his autobiography, Eli Weisel tells of meeting with the French writer, Jean Paul Mauriac. Weisel becomes enraged as Mauriac keeps speaking about Jesus. He explodes with fury, telling him that not far from where they were sitting at that moment, thousands of Jews suffered unspeakable things, and yet, Weisel says, “We never speak about them. Can you understand that? We never speak about them!” Mauriac, moved to tears, encouraged the young Jewish journalist to find the words to tell that story. The result was the Nobel Prize winning book, Night.

We must consider that those very things we find unspeakable may be the “field” God has given us. As Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:13, is sure of the field “God has assigned to us,” we must move boldly into the fields of words He has for us. The words are there, if we but search for them, allowing the Spirit of God to guide us. We must work for them, honing our craft and never settling for 'good enough.' We must honour them by allowing them to be read, finding the markets that are right and persevering through rejection. We must, above all, learn from them, for God is teaching us through the words we write.

What language can we borrow? The language God has given, the words we struggle to find, the expressions that sing in our hearts, the bits of poetry we commit to memory, the lines from fiction and non-fiction that resonate deep with us. We borrow them all, as they become a part of us and a part of our own voice.

Step boldly into your field of words, though they may seem inadequate to express the wonder or pain in your heart. God has prepared them for you and they will speak, to you and to others.

1 comment:

Dee said...

We must, above all, learn from them, for God is teaching us through the words we write.

Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful reminder.

Thanks for keeping me in the write mindset.