Last night I watched The Book Thief with some friends after a long dinner of an appetizer pizza with apricot, brie, garlic and olives, some sushi made with freshly roasted nori, avocado and sticky rice along with some some vegetable penang curry. We talked and we laughed and cried a bit. Candles were lit and we drank deep of friendship, shared tips on living life and things mystical.
One of the movie’s protagonists proposes that words are an essential way that humans live and make meaning out of life and my guests and I agreed that kindness is a trait which we consider to be similarly essential to living a good life.
This image of a tree growing out from within a crack in a rock on the edge of a canyon reminds me that life can emerge from just abut anything; a broken marriage, a stalled friendship, the 1st century tomboy Lazarus or Jesus, a terrible event which would seem to threaten even the desire to live past it, Holy Week. Anything.
We make words and we write words and we speak words and when it came time for God to describe the work he was doing by becoming human and releasing us from shame God actually called this incarnation of divinity “the Word made flesh.”
Great life emerges from the solidity of kindness, truth and the silence which makes words pregnant. I think Lent is a time to occasionally shut-the-hell-up. To listen and then to speak with great care and reverence for the silent spaces between the words and phrases; because it is from the cracks in the meaningless words which assail us like a never-ending nor’easter, that a life-giving word will emerge.
I wonder if giving up sweets or tv or sodas for Lent is as effective as giving up talking too much. There is a sign in my farmhouse which is posted by the door and past which all my friends must go as they enter. The sign says “Welcome, but before you speak here, ask yourself, is it kind, is it true, does it improve on the silence?” The art of life is to hang such a sign and then only invite people to one’s home who, on seeing it, will welcome the discipline of it.