In the beginning there were words. Words that in their being, brought earth and all creation into being with them. Words that shaped land and ocean, sky and heavens, words that placed stars into the atmosphere and brought water out of springs in the earth, to water the ground. That the ground might bloom into life, and the walking, breathing life that lived upon the earth might eat of the blossoming of the earth. All this came from words.
At the end, there are always words. They are heavy words filled with sadness and loss, words that endeavour to bring meaning to a series of repeated breaths, repeated motions that together construct what we call life. We use words to describe a person in all their broken glory. Words that paint pictures of them in younger, more productive years. Words that make small triumphs from failures, words that give us the power to influence and change the purpose of a life, from smallness to greatness at the moment of death.
Words seem infinitely powerful at that moment. When the silence becomes an ache, and the ache an emptiness, and the emptiness cannot be filled, then words have the infinite power to restore, to birth, to create, to offer. Until the final word is spoken, hope remains and life endures in the breath and intonation of the phrases we choose to define the life we mourn.
So ask me not, to give to you my mind or body, or my soul so much as you could ask of me a kiss; a kiss of syllables and consonants, of round, deep vowels and slowly formed phrases. My kiss of words I give to you, crafted with the infinite depth of my heart, which cannot find sharper, truer or more apt gift to give you, than my words spilled out on paper and in space; carved out in the ether.
Words contain more of ourselves than we realise. Why do I always say woman and not female? One is sensual and human, the other cold and scientific. Why do I twist and turn the phrases in my mouth into new shapes and sounds to soften that which is hard or smooth that which is broken? How is it that within my phrases I find spaces for latin, greek, hebrew and polynesian roots and yet I am an English mutt according to my ethnic blueprint? Why do I find a deep sense of home in listening to the words that roll from your tongue in fluid apathy to my apparent need of them?
My words speak my heart aloud and they fly up into the air, resting on shadows and clouds, sliding down raindrops back into puddles at my feet, before the listless wind blows fragments of my phrases back towards me. I do not recognise my own heart as it comes broken back to me, and yet drawn to these fragments I piece together a strange jigsaw puzzle of a poem. Once poems were my bridges to the world. I slid over velvet phrases into reality, and landed softly amongst other poet friends. The lens of 'form' was like a comforting blanket, where any phrase could be turned around, remade into something gentler to the ear. All phrases were turned around in the end.
Our words together seem like a dance where one is never certain of the other, and the orchestra slips ahead, like salmon darting ahead upstream, always dragging us behind, always lost in thinking of a lyric for the bars that we pass by.
Some words hesitate me for moments and hours, glueing me to the spot in a fickle jelly, for fear never likes to admit what it is, except what it is not. I am not cold, I am not small, I am not frightening. I am terrified. It is a foolish assumption to believe that words alone can prove their Truth, for words without context are like sentences without punctuation. Neither likes the restraint but is depending on the clarity it brings. Words like beautiful can trip me up for hours, words like father bog me in delay. Others are like deep, sapphire pools of the ocean and entice me to frolic and play.
Words are like the breath of the wind, even lighter than the wind, but existing in every atom of the air. They sit like art upon the page, they fly soaring when spoken. They have a power all their own, they don't deserve the loneliness of One-ness. They are tiny threads that march out from my heart into yours, along an invisible string, that seems tightly tied to your heart also, and so we walk now tied together by the heartstrings of words that have been spoken and twitter and dance between us.
(This essay was originally published on www.tashmcgill.com)
Tash McGill is a professional writer and communications consultant who has been involved in youth ministry for 15 years, working in local churches as a volunteer and bi-vocational youth pastor. She is passionate about adolescent development, community formation and hospitality.
Tash McGill's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tash-mcgill.html