Through the word, we appropriate and internalize what we are living. The word makes our experience truly human.This was today's offering from the Henri Nouwen Society...and once again, it was spot on for me. I'm one of those who doesn't really know what she thinks until she hears what she says, or at least reads what she has written. Similarly, significant experiences are not really mine to take hold of until I have articulated them to someone I trust; that's why it's important, always, for me to connect with my Spiritual Director before I head home from a silent retreat.
Some of my menfolk, who operate very differently, find this hard to understand...I'll never forget reading Hugger Steward some piece of hugely beautiful spiritual writing, which opened all sorts of amazing windows onto God for me, and hearing the incredulity in his voice
"Words really do it for you, don't they?"
Well yes - they really do.
And I'm more aware each day of the power and weight of words used liturgically.
On the fabulous retreat that he led before our Diaconal ordination, Senior Cleric Whom I Much Admire talked about the "words of power" we would be given and I wondered...It didn't seem possible really - until it was. Again and again I've shared the experience of words changing things radically and against all expectations as I speak them for the community in liturgy.
I'd been in full-time ministry for quite a while before I realised that, at every funeral visit, I always read the likely selection of readings aloud, even if everyone in the room has a Bible on their knee (a pretty rare scenario, but you get the picture)....I wondered why until I reflected on the impact of those words spoken clearly into that context, and their transformative power, again and again.
"Nothing life nor death nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God...."
How they are delivered during worship is surely of the utmost importance, for they are signposts to something far more weighty, treasures that we can hold as hostage for the truths that they point to.