There Are No Words

Turning for home after my twilight walk, I saw the dark creeping in, spreading over the weakening light of day. I wondered at the muddy color of the sky.

I thought to myself, “How would I describe this sky? Without any idea of the time of day, it would look like night falling, or a storm brewing. Reaching for adjectives in the small vocabulary room in my mind, I failed to find a way to describe what I was seeing.

There were no words.

Visiting different blogs, I see gorgeous photographs of flowers, sunsets, families, spider webs and backyards. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Some just make you gasp out loud, don’t they?

But I bet if you met the photographer in the aisles at Target, and gushed about what you saw, you might be surprised to hear the response. I think 99.5% of photographers would say that the real scene was 99.5% more beautiful than the photo. Have you ever taken a picture of a beautiful beach scene, only to be disappointed by the print?

What we see, we cannot adequately describe.
What we capture on disc never looks like what we see.

I know that we are only human. We have limited verbal skills. We are imperfect photographers, straining to capture the beauty that defies being assigned to one still frame.  But I think the reason we are so challenged, has less to do with our humanity, and more to do with our spirituality.

When I look up at the night, seeping and spreading across the sky, my eyes capture the wonder, but my soul does too. When I try to photograph a perfect rose, my constant spirit is filled with joy to see and experience that flower too.

Words and lenses belong to the human part of us, we use them to explain and record the world. But what can explain the movement that occurs in the soul? We struggle then, because we do not have the capacity to express or reflect the wonder present there. Because our shining soul is the house of God.

And there are no words.

“Let all the earth keep silence before him.” The prophet Habbakuk instructs the people to silence in the Temple. Our temple is the soul. And we are silent there too; unable to comprehend its holiness.

King David says: “…close behind and close in front you fence me around, shielding me with your hand. Such knowledge is beyond my understanding, a height to which my mind cannot attain.” (Ps 139) We will never be able to perfectly explain or capture our view, because what our spirit experiences, absolutely defies description.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that expresses this inability to speak in the presence of glory.

I say so many things, trying to figure you out.
But as mercy opens my eyes, my words are stolen away, with this breathtaking view of your grace.
We are speechless-so amazed.
We stand in awe of your mercy…
You have shown us a love that leaves us

May my soul speak its silent language, while I stand in my silent awe.