All books have words. (Even picture books will have illustrator and copyright information somewhere in small print.) But how many books are about words themselves?
I’ve always liked words. Clickbait will get me with headlines like “New Words Added to the Dictionary.” I’m easily fascinated (and distracted) by considering why skilled wordsmiths and expert advertisers chose one word over another. Together with W.H. Auden, I “like to hang around words and overhear them talking to one another.”
A copy of Marilyn McEntyre‘s book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies found its way onto my bookshelf a few years ago and I enjoy picking it up now and again to reread portions. In the chapter about the art of good conversations, I dogeared a page where the author turns her attention to the words we use in prayer. I appreciate the emphasis on grace – our ability to pray is a gift from God as we’re returning to him words he first entrusted to us.
To be in conversation with God is, like tithing, a way of returning to him some part of the gift of words we have received from him who is the Word. Like the long, intimate conversations of shared life among partners and friends, conversation with God keeps us turning toward, confiding in, trusting, and learning from the very source of life and language. In that intimate conversation [of prayer], we can be sure of receiving whatever direction and words we need for all [our] other [conversations]. Jesus’ promise to the disciples as he sent them forth to preach can be claimed by each one of us as we enter into our daily encounters, hoping to find lively and life-giving words: “…Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19). (page 110)