Words, words, words. Our society is full of words: on billboards, on television screens, in newspapers and books. Words whispered, shouted, and sung. Words that move, dance, and change in size and color. Words that say, "Taste me, smell me, eat me, drink me, sleep with me," but most of all, "buy me." With so many words around us, we quickly say: "Well, they're just words." Thus, words have lost much of their power.
Still, the word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, "I love you," and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, "I hate you," we can destroy another person. Let's watch our words.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
I seem to have been somewhat caught up in other things these last few days, and I'm sorry I haven't been blogging here as much as I'd have liked. But thinking about the readings for tomorrow, I was struck yet again by John's glorious introduction to his Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1.1-5)
I think Nouwen was only partly right when he suggested that words have lost their power. I think that words may have lost their power for some of us; in and of themselves, they are as powerful as they ever were.
Jesus is the living Word, and all words are somehow almost sacramental as a result. Matthew 5.21-22 suggests something of this power: we would do well, it seems to me, to try and keep this in mind. In this season, when everything seems to be coming out in little pink hearts, we sometimes forget that, as Nouwen reminds us, "When we say, 'I love you,' and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage." These words are a tiny act of creation, a small but very real part in Jesus' glorious affirmation, "Behold, I make all things new."