Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
Clearly, Hamlet found his book quite unexciting.
Being a student of language, I am naturally drawn to the beauty and power of words, a power demonstrated by God Himself, by angels and even by humans
God said . . . and nothing became something.
There have been so many times in my spiritual life when I scramble to find the right words to use in prayer. After all, I have many people, situations and things to pray for!
Where are the words? Do I use some of the billions spoken or written by others to communicate to the Lord an urgent cry for help? Or even occasionally to express gratitude?
Sometimes I have an almost physical sense of being blocked, muted. Using the words of others seems so unauthentic then. Whatever word-prayers Saint X composed were surely just right for him/her, but somehow they don’t fit me. My struggle is like fighting my way out of a spiritual or mental strait jacket.
Words are how we communicate to one another, right?
Well, not always. Sometimes we might be so overcome with feelings that all we can do is hug someone we love or who is bereaved. Or we might find something lovely or useful to give them, or something lovely or useful to do for them. So words are not always the answer, as Jesus knew:
When you pray, do not babble on like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Once again, the words of St. Paul come to the rescue, convincing me that though I’m quite sure I don’t pray as I “ought,” the Holy Spirit will step in to save me by praying noiselessly within me, using not words but unutterable groanings. (Romans 8:26) Maybe it’s a sense of longing, of wonder, of delight, of admiration — or best of all, of love. Somehow, a connection is made. And no words were necessary.