This morning in the rush of my morning routine I heard a snippet of a song. It was coffee shop music both literally and in its nature. The indie songstress crooned out a line that struck me, something like, “From here, I can’t use words anymore, they don’t mean enough.”
How true that is. Have you ever gotten to the point where words are inadequate to capture something that is happening to you or that you feel? That any words you might choose, no matter how artfully chosen, would fall short of the reality you wish to communicate?
There is poetry merely in the claim that an experience or sentiment is beyond words; such a sentence points beyond itself indicating a uniquely human experience yet untouched by the materialism and pragmatism of our age. When the point is made, people nod, knowing exactly what is meant.
But what if this well-known parlor trick of the poet disguises another glaring but taken-for-granted fact of our existence? What if our words themselves are less than they once were? Imagine for a moment that “in the beginning” words were larger, fuller, more expansive and real than they are now—imagine that “in the beginning” there were no experiences that were beyond words because words themselves were simply bigger? Isn’t it possible that words were a gift given so that every vicissitude of human experience could be artfully and perfectly shared?
Taken from another perspective, have you ever thought a word has lost something that it had once possessed? Ever been told something and then felt cheated by the experience of what the word promised? Ever been told “I love you” and then wished the reality of the experience held up to the promise of what you thought the word meant? Love loses a little (perhaps a lot)in actual use by us who have fallen from grace.
What if Jesus (“the Word”) came also to redeem words? What if Jesus came to take the fragile remnants of what you once thought “love” and “friendship” and “joy” meant and resurrect them to a state even higher and more beautiful than your original imagination?
Heaven is poetry because there is a taken-for-granted reality to which it points that we know instinctively for truth. However fallen our words and our imaginations, the sentiments that leap to mind upon the mention of “heaven” are not more than what God intends for us, but rather imperfect metaphors for a reality which Jesus came to proclaim and then firmly establish.
I suppose there is mission here as well. Aren’t my actions supposed to point beyond me to the one who has called me? Couldn’t God use me to elevate words? Not because words themselves have intrinsic value, but because God is elevating me and my deeds as I submit my ways to the Way Jesus came to reveal. What if I could help heal the word “love” because of the way I loved?
That would be poetry.