Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Selah

(repost from October 19, 2008)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
John 1:1-4

There are passages in the Bible that we hear so often, they can lose their punch as we see them in print, hear them intoned, repeat them from memory. I can rattle off the 'Love Chapter' of I Corinthians 13..'Love is patient, love is kind...' I can hear a verse come up during a sermon and mentally rip on through to the end. While familiarity is not a bad thing when it comes to Scripture, I can make it become rote when I stop reflecting, when I don't ask for fresh insight, when I take unconscious pride in my familiarity and neglect the posture of humility in the presence of the inspired word of God.

The first chapter in the book of John had become a passage like that for me. You know, you know, ''in the beginning was the word and the word was with God...blah, blah, blah..."not actually saying 'blah, blah, blah' but paying about as much attention as that verbalization would indicate. But in acknowledging that Scripture is miraculously living and applicable, in that way that Scripture somehow can still speak into our today, this passage now has come to mean so much more.

By the time 4 of 8 was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss, we were already far behind the curve in language development with her. She could make us understand certain needs she had through gestures and repeated little verbal sounds, but this communication system only covered a handful of basic issues. And as we grappled with the challenge of working toward getting appropriate technology and appropriate therapy for her, I discovered a layer to the whole thing that simply bent my brain.

Who was 4 of 8?

She couldn't tell me about herself. What was her favorite color? How did she represent the color red, in her mind? I knew she didn't have a word for the color red. How did she mentally distinguish it from, say, the color blue? How did she organize this information in her mind without the advantage of labels? And how did she think about things? What were the thought processes that fluttered across her mind? If she were sad, how was that represented in her thoughts? And what were her thoughts? How did she 'think' about things without nouns, verbs, adjectives? Who was this child and how would we come to know her if she had no language base from which to describe herself to us?

As we began the therapy process and we worked toward making sound and labels meaningful to 4 of 8, I came across John 1:1-4 again...and was stunned at its profundity. 'In the beginning was the Word'. The simple term, word, carries a much bigger punch in the original Greek. Logos is the Greek term and it carries not only the meaning of a word, but the larger meaning of reason, logic, intelligence, concept. What John is really saying to us is that the presence of language, of Christ as the incarnation of that language, has been a part of creation from the beginning, not only present but the conduit through which all creation emanates.

And so, in my hearing impaired child, in the depths of the challenge of language development, I glimpsed the Divine. Language is the base for all we see, all we experience, how we organize our thoughts, how we perceive our experience. Everything created finds its genesis in a word, in the Word. Think on the powerful statements in Genesis, when God said and then He called the systems and creations He was putting in place. They were labeled, identified, conceptualized in the vessel of words. In our human walk, whether our language is English or French or Farsi or American Sign Language, we were uniquely created to frame our lives in the structure of words. Art can evoke emotion, music can swell the heart...and we categorize those experiences, those memories in a filing system of words.

Brain Greene, the Everyman's theoretical physicist, has written extensively on String Theory, the idea that there is a harmonic of wave that holds everything together in the universe, a sound wave of meaning, if you will. The echoes of a spoken creation ring still, the glue of our very atoms. The Word. The building blocks of a universe, the foundation of a planet, the very structure of a soul. How we speak of our lives, how we think on our experiences, how we project our voices into a belief or lack thereof mix the very mortar of the bricks of our journeys. And when I reflect on this, on this incredible gift of language, I think a little more on what I say, how I say it. What am I creating with my words? Am I speaking grace? Am I speaking encouragement? Am I speaking hope? And in the speaking, am I speaking the one thing most important of all?

The Word.


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