How many times in the past have I decried the frailty of words! How many times have I been frustrated by the deficiencies of language to transcend the sentient realm! On further reflection I’m coming to realize that it might not be quite fair. The frailty and deficiency is, to a degree, in the words themselves which are generated by the imperfections of my intellect. Furthermore, the frailty and deficiency is also due to my own failure to squeeze every drop of contextual meaning from them.
We swim in a sea of words that renders our attention somnolent toward anything but superfluous or pragmatic meaning. Like the air we breathe, we never consider the air itself. In daily commerce we can get by like this.
Words, however, are generated from the personal context of each speaker or writer and include: time, place, situation, emotion, want, need, etc. When we hear a word, we seldom consider these things. We hear the gospels so regularly that we seldom consider Your words in the context of all the elements in which they were spoken. We also do this with others whose voices we are accustomed to hearing regularly. We apprehend simply on the surface without considering all the contextual elements which enrich meaning. In the Mass and in prayer this is really important. It takes effort but is very rewarding. The same applies to others who are talking to us – especially those closest to us with whom we converse on a regular basis. We must regard context.
New light and life reflects back to me when I thoughtfully consider the words of the Ordinary of the Mass or of the prayers I so absent-mindedly recite every day, or of the emotion, want, or need expressed in the voice of another beyond their words. Words are vehicles that express our spirit. They are not precise. We realize this when we search for the right words to express ourselves and, having made the choice, are still uncertain that they convey what we truly wanted. We need to consider that this process also takes place in those to whom we listen. All entail a union for which we yet strive.