I heard a poet on a podcast say reading is a superpower. He gleans ideas from other writers. But it’s much deeper than just ideas.
He looks at the way writers structure their prose and organize their sentences. Certain phrases or words jump off the page and he plays with them on the page, looking for a way to turn a new phrase himself.
Ultimately, he’s looking for a spark – something to inspire him. You are a reader, so you understand.
Maybe you highlight passages in your Bible or in a book you’re reading because those particular words resonate or clarify something for you. I do that too. I also might speak into my phone when I’m driving if I see a marquee with a phrase that strikes me, or I jot down words or phrases I hear on podcasts.
A while back, I heard Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal interviewed (from the new-wave group Tears for Fears). Orzabal lost his wife of thirty-six years a few years ago. During the interview, he (or maybe it was Smith, I’m not sure) said we live so much of our life “in memory.”
I don’t know the exact context – partially because I only caught a few minutes of the interview and partially because I latched on to that phrase and couldn’t let it go. Maybe I’ll expand on that thought at some point in the future. I haven’t finished thinking it through.
But as word people, you know what I’m talking about. Someone turns a phrase that sticks with you and it makes a difference – either at the moment or maybe it changes your complete perspective on something.
This is the power of words.
I once read this quote from writer Tom Stoppard: “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
I get a little giddy thinking about that, especially as a Christian.
God spoke the world into existence and handed Moses the decalogue (deca meaning ten; logos meaning word); we know it as the Ten Commandments or the ten words. And Christianity is a word religion (Jesus is the Word incarnate), rooted in the closed canon (the Bible) and supported by the creeds (words) of ancient believers.
This is why my heart hurts when I hear Christians (and others) say they don’t read. They don’t realize what they’re missing.