Words, Words, Meaningful Words

Les Feuilles Mortes played in our kitchen the other day, subliminally reminding me that fall truly is coming (I say “subliminally,” of course, since I know no French other than what Google Translate tell me — this is “dead leaves,” by the way).

For me, the dead leaves start falling Monday morning at 8am.

Since the classes I’m teaching are about the creative use of words as a means to an end (or, uh, College English 101), this passage by Frederick Buechner has been sitting with me lately:

Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much of this power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves.  That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as the final power of words: that not even across great distances of time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate.  And when these words tell of virtue and nobility, when they move us closer to that truth and gentleness of spirit by which we become fully human, the reading of them is sacramental; and a library is as holy a place as any temple is holy because through the words which are treasured in it the Word itself becomes flesh again and again and dwells among us and within us, fully of grace and truth. (Buechner, Listening to Your Life, 170-71)

Yes, Buechner is pretty enchanting.  But I love how, like the jazz, he breaks the rules.  His sentence mechanics are all over the place.  Parts of this passage are so difficult to follow since he takes such liberty with commas and the like.  But the music and the glorious ambiguity are still there.  I like that.

(These old books are from a deserted church BJ “broke into”…anything for the art, right?)

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