Words, even in this world of image and sound, continue to be important. Words are the way in which we make sense of the world, in which we order the world, in which we explain and find meaning. We use worlds to bless, and curse, encourage, and put down. Poets and storytellers construct reality from words, they conjur and cajole new ways of seeing, and ultimately new ways of being.
Words can start revolutions, and bring peace. They can be expressions of love or create hatred. They can heal or harm, uplift or oppress.
In the ancient stories of Christian and Hebrew faith, in the book of Genesis, the universe is created by God speaking to nothing and creating everything. In many cultures words and breath are tied together - and the word, created by breath, the very foundation of life, remains a part of the speaker, retaining something of her or his being. This makes the description of Jesus as 'The Word" - the expression of God in human form - resonate with even more meaning.
Various writers in the Scriptures upon which the Christian faith is founded talk of the power of words - Jesus tells us to be clear in our speaking 'let your yes be yes' and to make sure our actions and our heart match the words we say. Paul the Apostle and James the brother of Jesus both talk of the power of words, and the pain and healing which can come from the way in which we speak to one another. We are to be careful of our words - for they can betray us, or they can show the quality of who we really are.
WORDS - Poem by Varavara Rao
Words, smothered in the folds of the self,
Must be stirred awake,
Made to amble and watch
See if wings can bear aloft
The crippled limbs
And soar into the sky.
Like the first showers after the drought
To my parched ears, my own worlds,
Not any other's, remain strange.
Like the marvel of the sky
Discovering its lost monsoon
I long to sprout on a soil
In the vibrations of a sonorous world.
Once again I yearn to learn the utterance
At school and on the commune,
From pupils and plebeians
I dream of seizing syllables
From each of history's furrows.
Without this voicing peal
How will this silence,
Loaded for so long in the self,
Without this booming resonance
How will this scene,
Cryptic for so long in the eyes,
Once again I must learn to utter
In communing with and listening to
I must be tethered to the word and abide by it
What's man's legacy after betraying the word?
Nothing debases the word:
In the blazing furnaces of time
Under the plummeting hammer clangs,
This, as the fittest moment,
I go on forging expressions.
Jesus said, ‘Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’