"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gasping for Breath

Have you ever noticed what a wordy world we live in? My husband and I took a quick road trip to Chattanooga this weekend for a family wedding and I felt like I would suffocate before we arrived home. No, it wasn't due to his verbosity. If there's anything my husband is not, it's a talker. What created this choking sensation were the signs along the way. Signs that told me where to eat, where to sleep, where to shop, and where to "drop." Improvised placards of Peaches! Pecans! And apple pie! Wherever there was a thought, there was a sign. Sides of 18-wheeler trailers, bumper stickers, logos, large advertisements, and small posts. Work signs, speed zones, HOV lanes. This exit, that exit. Words which flickered off and on, moved slowly, danced, jumped, wiggled. Some whispered; others screamed. I realized I could hardly have one original thought of my own for reading all the billboards and signs plastered along the 450 mile round trip. At times, it took everything in me to keep my eyes focused on the natural scenery and not read the words flashing by me. I felt strangled by all the ... words.

Actually, this thing of words is really a quite new phenomenon. Think about it. Just over a hundred years ago, there were very few road signs. There were certainly no bumper stickers, no signs announcing the newest shopping area or billboards telling us which lawyer to hire. There was a time without all the advertisements that now cover whole cities with words that tell us which candidate to vote for or which network to watch. (And does anyone even remember when our shopping bags were only brown paper sacks and didn't sport the retailer's fancy logo?)

Now don't get me wrong. I love words. In fact, did you know that the average person speaks 45,000 words a day? No doubt, we women make up the average for what men don't use. And since my husband only uses about 100 a day himself, I feel as if I have a whole lot of averaging out to do. Words are wonderful. And they can carry such power. Yet in all their excessiveness, in all their overload, could it be that they've lost much of their positive creative ability? That truly they do go in one ear and out the other? Or as in my case today, become strangling?

Honestly, there was only one road sign truly worth reading today. It said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me -- Phil. 4:13." Ah, now there's a true word. His name is Jesus. John said it this way. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). I believe that is word enough. It alone carries power and creative ability. After all, did this Word not speak and the worlds were brought into existence? Is it not living and breathing even today? Does this Word not still speak?

In the meantime, what a relief it was when we finally exited the interstate and took the very short drive to home where very few signs littered the way. I finally felt as if I could breathe again.

Just an ordinary moment...

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