Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why Words Matter

No one writes these days. I mean really writes. E-mails and My Space comments don't count. Sure, authors and reporters write, but that's only for money. No one ever writes anything personal or private, person to person anymore. No one writes letters. They are a lost art. And I think it's because of this that our grammar has gone to pot and no one can spell. Well, I take that back. Most people can spell, if they would just take a little more time, if they would actually care.

Our society and modern technology have made it unnecessary, really, almost impossible, for people to take their time in expressing themselves in writing. With the advent of text messaging, along with its own evolving sets of phrases and abbreviations, messages contain little or no punctuation and an unwritten (no pun intended), though by no means misunderstood, rule that Spelling Does Not Matter.

It wasn't always this way. A long, long time ago, before My Space and the internet, before texting and even before cell phones (can we even imagine such a time?) people who lived far away from their friends and family would have to wait days, even weeks or months, between messages. As a result, they took their time- time that they had more of, somehow, doesn't it seem?- in writing the messages. It was unthinkable to send a letter that contained any but the most minimal of grammar mistakes. If you were an intelligent, literate person your writing reflected it. Your words reflected it.

Words matter because they are our connections to other people, and those connections are what forge our relationships. The written word is one of Man's greatest accomplishments and one of God's greatest gifts. It should be treated with respect, as our words, both written and spoken, are part of how we present ourselves and, in consequence, how much we respect and care for those to whom we address them.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Surprised By Love

I don't think I've ever doubted that God loves me. Even at my worst, when I was just a total little brat. I guess maybe I could be considered a little over-confident. My mindset was always, "Of course God loves me. Why wouldn't He?" What I've mostly doubted is whether I love Him.

It's interesting that I've been thinking about this lately, because I've been reading C. S. Lewis's autobiography, Surprised By Joy, of which Anne Fremantle said: "Since Augustine's meticulous analysis of what was the light, what the color, what the sound, the smell, the touch, what, indeed, was the good he loved when he loved God, few writers have taken the trouble to distinguish, with such clarity of psychological insight, the nature and degree of attraction, the nature and degrees of satisfaction apprehended by man." I say interesting because, though I haven't read very much Augustine, and my thoughts have been anything but meticulous, clear, or insightful, I, too, even before reading this book, have tried to examine what it is, why it is that I love God. What am I loving when I love Him? Am I really loving Him at all? This is what I came up with.

I love God because I love the mountains. I love Him because I love the sunset and the stars. I love Him because of the way the wind sings as it blows through the trees. I love Him because of flowers and birds and butterflies and smooth shiny stones on the bottom of the ocean floor. I love Him because of the rain that sparkles on a window pane and the quiet blanket of snow that covers a winter night. I love Him because of the mist that envelops the highest mountain, even on the warmest summer day. And music. I can't forget music. Or my family.

I love God because I see Him in the things that I love. I love Him because He loved me enough to give them to me, to show Himself to me in ways that I can understand, even if I don't comprehend. Isaac Newton believed that God is a rational God, that He reveals Himself in the perfect order of the laws of nature. But God is also a passionate God, One that reveals Himself in ways that no law can explain. Like love.

You can't imagine what a relief it was to find that I do love God, to find that everything that I love about His creation, the beauty, the order, and the freedom within that order, the depth and purity and brightness, is really what I love about Him. The God that I love both rationally and passionately is the author of the one thing that defies both reason and passion, that surpasses both faith and hope: love. Love is the weight and the balance; love is the root of the root, the sky of the sky, the wonder that's keeping the stars apart and the breath on my lips.

It is because of His love that I love Him.