In the previous post I referred to the distinction that Eugene Peterson makes between two groups of words. The first is words for communication. The second is words for communion. The difference does not consist in the combination of consonants and vowels. The difference, it seems, has more to do with the heart from which the words emanate.
I heard a story many years ago that seems to underscore this. You’ll have to imagine a time that predates the proliferation of mass media, even radio. For entertainment and edification people regularly gathered in community meeting halls to listen to gifted “readers”. By all reports these were often spectacular events.
Near the conclusion of an evening’s offerings a well-dressed, dignified looking gentleman assumed a commanding position in front of an assembled crowd. With distinct diction and a booming bass voice he flawlessly recited the six verses which constitute Psalm 23. The audience responded with vigorous applause. Near the back of the room an older man leaned over to his wife and said, “He really knows that psalm.”
After a moment’s pause an elderly man shuffled his way to the front of the assembly hall, clearing his throat along the way. After stopping along side of the lectern, he cleared his throat one last time. He started to speak. His voice cracked. He coughed involuntarily and stopped speaking. After taking a drink of water from a glass that was handed to him, he began speaking again. Although is voice was weak and could hardly be heard by some, he recited the 23rd Psalm with passion and precision. When he concluded his recitation, the audience sat in stunned silence. The woman whose husband had spoken to her just moments before leaned towards her husband and said, “That man really knows the Shepherd.”
To be sure, the difference between words for communion and words for communication is usually not about the words themselves. It is, after all, out of the abundance of one’s heart that the mouth speaks, according to Jesus. Given the fact that we need to communicate and commune with God and one another, it seems that the most important thing for all of us to guard our hearts, for our hearts are the well-spring of life.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Blessings to all,