I have just eaten a tangerine. I am interested in the history of words, so having eaten my tangerine, I looked it up in the dictionary. The fruit’s name originates in Tangier in Morocco from where tangerines were first imported to Europe. I like the way one word can contain a whole story.
When we speak about the spiritual dimension to our lives we should remember that all words have histories, and limits too. In his great mystical poem ‘Four Quartets’ T.S.Eliot says,
and sometimes break under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
will not stay still.
In many ways our congregation is a conversation, an ongoing discussion about the divine. This is one of the reasons I am a Unitarian. We know that faith is a process, a relationship that cannot be frozen into brittle definitions and dogma. We like talking and listening. Yet we also know that words have their limits, that God is beyond our comprehension. So we sit in stillness sometimes, knowing that the divine principle cannot really be described in words.
This does not mean that silence is better or truer than language, or that they are opposites, but that we need both. As Eliot says Words, after speech, reach into the silence.