Sunday, February 11, 2018

In the Shadow of Words


by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

It’s been a while since I’ve written—since I followed words across the page as they made their way to wherever they were headed. I’ve missed their shadow and walking in it. They break ground for me, sheltering me from the hot, harsh wild of uncertain terrain. My place behind them is cool and smooth, a place of comfort and security.

Do you see your words this way? 

Can you feel the protection they provide? Do your words pull you onward as mine pull me, or do you wield them with skill and precision? I do not believe there is a right or wrong, I’m just curious about your process as it compares to mine?

Sometimes my words get stuck. 

They get trapped somewhere, lodged in place. They run into each other, bottlenecked and backed up, stacking up on top of each other. And I have to wait for the way to clear so they can move forward. I sit, watching.

After time and the passage of normal day-to-day life, they break free. 

Somehow they move ahead. Tumbling through at first, they slowly regain their fluid, ground-breaking ways, and I step in behind again and find my shadowed place. It is a place of wonder—walking behind them, guessing where they might go and what fresh sights I will see on the journey. Surprise is expected, if such a thing can be said.

It’s all in my head, I’ve been told, that this is simply how my imagination has chosen to describe the way thought works. Perhaps. Who can know? Until words, or language of some sort, are added to thought it has so few parameters, if any, to study and comprehend.

A quick glance into metacognition and the mind’s interaction with language, and we find ourselves deeply imbedded in theory of how thought works. It seems clear that before language is added, thought is present. Before we learned a dialect, we had active cognition, which, according to theorists, is “beneath” all that is “accessible to the thinker.” Thought precedes language, but is expressed in language of many forms in the mind, rendering ideas more tangible and therefore, malleable.

It is a fascinating exploration, but in the end, we really don’t know how it all works. The human mind is a great mystery. The miracle of thinking—that’s what I’m musing on today, and how words and thought intertwine and thrive in us, the Imago Dei.

Scripture tells a beautiful story about words. Their significance is as profound as life itself. All of creation was spoken into existence by God’s words. The Savior Himself is called the Word. And this majestic and dumbfounding phrase we all know, “…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” resonates with the aspect of humanity that is singular and uniform throughout, even for those who do not yet know His name.

Words themselves have a story to tell. What was put into motion at the Beginning will continue until it is completed.

In honor of words, and simply because I love them, I have a box in which I keep some. Some are words from others and some are my own. These are some of mine I found in my box today:

“There are words, you see, that once lived together. They know each other from a time long ago and from out where they have been roaming. Their collaborated ideas are revealed when they are rejoined. The thoughts they once encapsulated and expressed pull them back together to form them into shape once again. The intimacy they once knew was broken when they were split from each other. They ache to be reunited. There is something they desperately want to say, but can’t just yet. So I hold the ones I’ve found hoping that more of them will find their way back.”

There is a story being told throughout the universe and throughout time. God’s words which first brought life into existence are still heard. They still bring life. They still echo and reverberate in all that is. And His life-giving, life-sustaining words will tell the full story as time unfolds and finds its end.

But until that time, let the words that pull us across the page and in whose shadows we rest, and the ones we wield and tell stories with continue to bring life to all who find them.

“My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them….” Prov. 4:20-22a

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Educated as a teacher, Sarah taught school for nearly 20 years. As a young woman, she lived in China amid the rice paddies and water buffalo near Changsha, and then later taught English in Costa Rica for four years and raised her two sons. 

Sarah is married for the second time, the mother of 2 boys and the step-mother to 3 more. She and her husband, David, work together in their agency The Van Diest Literary Agency. Her full name is Sarah Ruth Gerke Van Diest. She’s 5’5” and cuts her hair when stress overtakes her. 

She is a freelance editor (including a New York Times and USA Today bestseller), blogger (The Write Conversation) and writer for hire. Her first book releases with NavPress in 2018. 

14 comments:

  1. Wow. You have such an interesting way of thinking. I'll have to ponder this awhile 🙂

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    1. Haha! That's a great response, Jennifer. :) I'd love to hear how your process works!
      Smiles,
      Sarah

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  2. This post is wonderful in a myriad of ways. Sarah's words and musings stir the words and musings that linger in my own shadows and encourage them to peak out. Thank you!

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    1. Carol! That's so fun! Thank you for sharing! Love it!
      Blessings!
      Sarah

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  3. Amen. Wonderfully and beautifully written ma'am. I sense that your words, like mine, often bring us closer to God. When writing, I more often than not, feel His presence with me as my fingers glide across the keyboard. God's blessings ma'am.

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    1. Thank you, Jim! There is no better way to say it than you just did!! Wonderful!
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  4. I love the image of walking in the shadow of your words. Your words flow beautifully, with a rhythm that gently pulls me along!

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    1. Thank you, sweet friend! Coming from you, a true artist, it means a ton! Thank you!
      Love you,
      Sarah

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  5. I love it when you :follow words across a page." They lead yo to beautiful places. Keep going, Lady.

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    1. Thank you, Marcia! What encouraging words!! I shall. :)
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  6. Hi, Sarah! I hadn't quite thought about it the way you describe, but yes, I love the feeling of following words across the page to see where they are taking me. I like to think I'm the writer and in charge, but often the words lead me. Thank you for sharing your process.

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    1. Thank you, Karen, for your thoughts. I suppose another way to say it is that writing can be a dance. :)
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  7. Yes. To everything you said. Yes.
    xo

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  8. I really enjoyed this. Mulling over it, thank you so much.

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