To many, words may be no more than scribbly clumps on a page or a screen, or combinations of sound that clutter the air. But I have experienced -- no, discovered -- immeasurable power in words. Weight. Expanse. Intricate details. Depths that plummet and heights that spiral into the sky like a fireworks rocket. Curves that invite touch. Edges and shrieks that cut into the flesh like knives. And illumination, glory and hope. And rest.
With all the writing that's been done since the foundation of recorded thought and speech, it's not hard to find snippets of quotes that perfectly align with your thinking on this topic or your feelings about that sensation or your wondering about that mystery. I love quotes. I love to curl the words around my experiences. I delight in the sounds of elegant pacing and lyrical language, sentences fortissimo, phrases hush, words staccato, punctuation hovers and guides and commands.
I collect quotes rather haphazardly. I see them like fingerfoods at a party. A bit here, a taste there. A square of sweet and a handful of savory, with no rhyme or reason, no plan of what to eat first, what to try next. Just grazing and delighting in what I find at the banquet table of words.
If I had followed the advice of my writing teachers when I was young, I would have started keeping a journal long before my 50s. But I didn't. If I followed my own counsel to my students, I'd have an organized and treasured commonplace book with those precious quotes corralled and savored for years to come. You know how your grandmother's bulging file of favorite clipped recipes looked, with tendrils of paper slipping out the sides? That's what I have tucked next to my desk. In my purse I carry a small envelope to gather scraps on which I write thoughts and impressions -- and quotes.
Today, I found the most delicious quote -- a fragrant and belly-warming morsel of words. The writer was describing, in the voice of a young girl, the feeling of putting thoughts into words on paper for the first time ever. The writer is Kate Morton, and the book is The Forgotten Garden. The quote needs no background because it transcends time and setting. Morton articulates with poignancy and accuracy the one sensation that all writers have felt but curiously struggle to express. She took me back to my seventh-grade year in school when I opted to do an alternative assignment in science class. My classmates chose to measure liquids or calculate velocity or record observations (without embellishment, mind you!). Incorporating facts and analyzing evidences, I wrote a persuasive story about the dangers of poisonous plants left unmarked and unattended in family gardens. There was innocence and death and angst and grief. And I felt born again. This is how Morton describes it, and it's how I felt:
She'd begun by writing a story for Rose, a birthday gift, a fairy story about a princes who was turned by magic into a bird. It was the first story she'd ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious. It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable. Breezes were cooler, the sun warmer. She couldn't decide whether the sensation was one she liked or loathed. (Morton, A Forgotten Garden, p. 284)
Yes. Yes. I am not the only one who feels both liberated and prickly, who craves the chaotic tumbling of writing at the same time she resists it. Here is a quote that deserves more than cramming into an envelope or wilting in a crowded file folder. Kate Morton's paragraph gets a blog post all to itself.
John Bunyan discovered the wealth of Christ and the strength of gracious faith while reading his Bible in prison. He reflects on and directs readers to the majesty of the Word over and over again in his writings. Of the power of the Bible -- God's word -- in bringing the converted sinner near to his shelter, his rescuer, his Savior God, he says, "He can make a jail more beautiful than a palace, restraint more sweet by far than liberty, and the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” God used words to create this place of peace and contentment. The very words of Scripture carried the wealth of knowledge, the vibrant hues of glory, the depths of passion for Bunyan, all stamped with divine elegance and succinct simplicity.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
My words may be no more than tasty morsels of fingerfood, sweets and savories and delicacies to nibble on when distracted. God's words are sovereign over life. They provide the sustenance, the nourishment, the nutrition and substance for living cells and bones. They pierce the soul and illumine the ugly rot of the heart.
According to His will, they will also summon without fail. They lift from the pit, they convict and warn and point to the Cross. They welcome sinners home.
Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah for the treasure of His word. The colors of this world, the music of the earth, all pale in comparison to the peace and beauty, hope and comfort we find in Jesus, the Living Word, revealed to us through the Bible. Go now, read the greatest book ever written.
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
© lauraenglandmiller, #thereyougothinkingagain, Laura E Miller
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