Words. Words. Words. In today’s culture, words are little packets of information that fly from our fingers or our months with little or no thought.
I never truly thought much about words until I began writing for The Catholic Witness. Writing causes me to slow down and actually reflect on the words I use. You might describe me as a “wordsmith.” In order to see if I could use this word as another means to describe myself, I turned to Dictionary.com. It defines wordsmith as: “an expert in the use of words; a person, as a journalist or novelist, whose vocation is writing.” Hmmm … Vocation of writing! … No way is that me. I have been called by God to use words to proclaim Him! I am indeed an evangelist! Still, I love to reflect upon the use of words in our culture and our language.
Recently, I came across an interesting reflection on the difference of discussion and dialogue. Kay Lindahl, author of The Sacred Art of Listening1 explains their difference in this manner: “Dialogue comes from the Greek dia, which means ‘through,’ combined with logos. Dialogue literally means words flowing through. In a flow of conversation, new understandings emerge that might not have been present otherwise. Dialogue, conducted in a spirit of inquiry and a genuine desire to understand, is an open-ended exploration. … Discussion comes from the Latin dis, which means ‘apart,’ and quatere, ‘to shake.’ Discussion has the same root as percussion and concussion, meaning to break things up. In a conversation each person is analyzing the subject, looking for answers, results or agreement.” She goes on to explain that there is another way to explain their difference, “Discussion leads from the intellect. Dialogue leads from the heart.”
Let’s apply the idea of discussion and dialogue when we come to God in prayer. How do we approach God? Do we, as a colleague says, “approach it like ‘going to see the wizard’ with our wants and demands?” Or, do we humbly approach our Creator and Beloved and dialogue with Him about our day, how our hearts have been, our needs and wishes? Do we open ourselves to Him in love, share with Him and then sit there allowing Him to whisper back in a language of love that only hearts know?
In a world of fast food, fast communication, fast travel, fast everything, I often think that we expect our prayers to be quickly answered. Remember, when we pray/dialogue with God who IS, we touch a being that is beyond time and location, beyond words and image. We touch our Creator who loves us so much that He wants us to be relationship with Him – a relations stems from the heart; the core of our being.
Responding to that is certainly a vocation in any language!
1Lindahl, Kay. The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. SkyLight Paths Pub., 2002. Pg. 29.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness