Romancing with Words
A mile away, words matter. If I see a sign, a billboard, an advert or a call-out in words “creatively spelled” or “enhanced with seductive images” I have an almost allergic reaction. I divert my children’s attention much like my ultra-health-conscious friends shy their children away from the processed meat aisle. I want my words, images, messages and overall intellectual intake to be as healthy and robust as my super-slim girlfriends want their vitamins and organic goodies on a daily basis. For me, words are to the soul as food is to the body.
Up close, words matter. I can’t imagine hugging my husband on his way out the door and whispering sweet nothings about not forgetting to return the “fast-views” library DVDs. Rather, it's the sweet meaningless words that have a powerful effect. They can make us feel a thousand times better than any well-crafted speech, $6 Hallmark card, or front-page National Post article we strongly agree with. Up-close words are for loving. They shelter us from the needs and greeds of the outside world. They fortify us. Especially when combined with a loving touch or a longer-than-usual look of deep acceptance. Bon mots are to the heart what a hug is to my marriage.
And then there’s what we put on paper, or the screen, or into a book, a story… there are the words we write. Talk about romance! Commitment, devotion and loyalty! Writers seem more wed to their words-of-choice than any married couple I know. The Bible talks quite a bit about not being double-minded; being wholly devoted, consecrated and even “set aside” to the purposes of God. I am convinced the writer’s gift is of a spiritual nature when I see how our spiritual walk parallels our walk as writers. We are wholly unsatisfied with the “wrong” word choice or an “unconvincing” story line or “flat” characters. We want what is real, strong, and even holy to appear and be made manifest through our otherwise rather humble creations of words arranged on paper. Why else would we care so much, unless it was God who was at work within us, helping us hone our craft and discern our particular calling—all to his glory. Single-mindedness is to the spirit what a perfect page of prose is to the writer.
There’s this deep desire in a writer to dovetail what’s going on inside with what’s being consumed, uttered or written on the “outside.” Writers are creatures of high ideals. They crave purity, constancy, protection, affirmation, strength, commitment, achievement and engagement. They look for this on a cultural, driving-by level. They look for this in their relationships. And they look for this in their God-given work.
The good news is the Bible says he who seeks—finds!