"Some things--many things, actually--are secret by their very nature. They can be revealed only indirectly and partially. When our language about such things puts on an appearance of solidarity and complete specificity, like that of words used for common daily objects, the language misleads us. It is when we stand in the very presence of the HOLY that cannot be clearly or simply expressed that we most truly recognize our priesthood for what it is."
--L. William Countryman, "Living on the Border of the Holy," p. 5
I took this picture at the house of friends. They have a cut glass front door window that, on many mornings, has a prism effect and casts rainbows on some of the walls and furniture. Of course, as the house guest, I noticed it right off, and was delighted and captivated by it. My hosts also enjoy it, but for them it was kind of like, "oh, yeah, it's cool," but it was definitely a part of everyday life. They noticed and appreciated it, but not in that "newness and awe" sort of way.
I also realized I was fairly inarticulate at describing my enjoyment of their rainbow-patterned walls.
I have just started reading Countryman's book, and what I thought would be an easy read has turned out to be a VERY slow read. Almost every page, I bump into a "that's IT!" paragraph, and I have to stop and reflect upon it. Just as I could not quite find the words to express how cool my friends' rainbow wall projections are, I find myself feeling very inarticulate in expressing verbally the things that make up the holy for me.
I realize this sounds kind of weird, because those of you who follow my blog probably think I'm halfway articulate. But when I try to verbalize my feelings about my possible call, I find myself very, very tongue-tied. After these conversations, I feel like I've just subjected the listener to the ramblings of an educationally challenged person.
I realized I mislabeled this phenomenon. I used to think it was anxiety on my part. I used to think it was my discomfort that the person I told this to, then held some kind of spiritual power over me. I used to think that there were wrong answers in terms of putting my process forward. But what I discover, as I talk to other people with the same issues, they almost all feel that way.
It's what Countryman is saying...that trying to use the words that we use to describe the mundane details of life, the same words we use to describe buying the groceries and cleaning the john just don't work in describing the holy. I understand better Luke's version of the parables. He quotes Jesus as saying that the kingdom of Heaven is "like" this and that and the other. That was even the best Jesus himself could do. So there's no reason to feel stupid over our own inarticulate-ness.
Instead of seeing chaos in this, I am slowly learning to see rainbows.