They say (whoever they are who say nevertheless with words)
that a picture’s worth a thousand words,
pictures being more exact replicas of reality,
or so they say.
Words are merely mental constructs, they say,
abstractions, illusions, arrows only, pointing to the real thing;
words are not experience itself, only limitations upon intuition.
But others, older, said words had power. Rumpelstiltskin.
You can divert or divest him of his power by calling his right name
or even by reminding him of it when he forgets.
Jung thought so too, saying to call something its true name
was to transform possible evil into its potential hidden gold.
Words. In the beginning was the word, some say.
But then there are forbidden words. Yahweh, so not to say,
the not-name for the unspeakable, the unknowable, the unnameable:
“Thou shalt not eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.”
Do not say. Silence yourself before the Name.
After all, we all know, words insult, wound, dismay. Why use them at all?
Silence, a guarded, secret, civil silence, is better, isn’t it, anyway?
Don’t talk politics or religion, you’ll start a war. At least.
I do respect Mystery, of course,
and am first, always, full of awe, silenced before Wonder.
But, once having recognized that something is unsayable,
I then reframe, knowing I am, inevitably, always at once
the speechless and the sayer.
And, earth native that I am, also, I know that everything has a spirit name,
a sacred presence to be related to by name,
and so to whisper its name, devotedly, as, say,
Brother Wind, Sister Fox, Grandfather Essence, Grandmother Changing Woman,
Delicious Chocolate, Beloved All.
Such like that. My prayer is always then
that I may be in right relation to it, whatever it is.
Named or unnamed. Known or unknown. Mystery. Great.
Yes, words have power.
So, use them sparingly.
Use them carefully.
Use them knowing they are only words.
But use them, point them, aim them, steady them,
frame them, reframe them, shape them, pray over them,
but use them, need be.
Any word used, though, mind you, has effect. Verbs, full of action.
Even nouns are sites, storehouses for power.
Spoken is opened, and the thing named, itself, flows out.
Poets paint partial, one palette, only words, it’s true,
but powerful, nonetheless, tricky, even dangerous.
Other palettes, paints perhaps, are easier.
Why don’t I go that way? Anybody’s guess.
But, no, yet again, against all my knowing better,
I take words in hand and say.
Image Credit: Stacey Alexander