I love words. I am repeatedly amazed at how people can use them to express and explain. But I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of wordlessness in my own relationship with God.
When you think about it, the most intense human emotions are often expressed wordlessly. There is a kind of grief and despair that can only be manifested in wordless, gut-wrenching tears and sobs. It makes me think of Good Friday, of Jesus’ loud cry on the cross in the moments before his death.
Imagine waking up on that Saturday morning. Your friend, your leader, your hope, is dead. Maybe you’ve known something of that feeling in your own life. There is an emptiness that no words can capture, a lifelessness that makes you wonder whether every moment from here on in will always be dimmer.
But there is another kind of wordless expression. The poet Patrick Kavanagh refers to the resurrection as a laugh freed forever and ever. What a beautiful way to imagine it! Those nonsensical, ridiculous noises, those moments where you laugh so hard it physically hurts, that joy and hilarity that cannot be contained. Just as there is wordless grief, just as there is wordless lifelessness, so too there is wordless joy. Here stands Jesus, the same Jesus who was crucified, in all his beauty and majesty. And we share in that side-splitting joy, that fullness of life! It doesn’t negate grief or depression or persecution or disease or any of these things that make us look at the world in wordless despair. It refuses to just see this brokenness and resign ourselves to the belief that this is all there is. In our deepest moments of personal pain it allows us to hold on to the promise that nothing is worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed.
We look to this beautiful, wonderful Jesus. Do we sing and shout our praises to him? Yes! Do we share this good news with those around us? Of course! Do we do theology, do we write and use this gift of language? Absolutely! But first we stand and gaze upon this God, and we are filled with wordless adoration.