Porcelain Words

I am the patron saint of lost causes
Aren’t we all to you just near lost causes?
                                     —Anberlin

I love words. All kinds of words. I like the fleshy, buttery words that drip off your tongue and melt in your mouth, like aroma, rococo, and ooze. I like the crunchy, crispy words that crackle in your voice, like raconteur, chimerical, and bellicose. I like the whisper, lullaby words that dance on your lips, like dolorous, labyrinthine, and morose. I see them, hear them, and feel them knitting themselves into never-ending knots of ideas and dreams and secrets all around me. They’re all so entangled and in love with one another, and they ignite my imagination and allow me to go wherever I want. Words help me to find myself and lose myself at the same time. They are the lullaby that keeps me awake.

Words are my favorite form of art. I love getting my hands sticky with the 1,025,109.8 different words in the English language and wiping them onto every situation I find myself in. Wherever I might be, words grow in the air and beg to be plucked and chewed on. Last weekend, I had the most wonderful time going downtown with my five favorite journalist-friends (all from the best news magazine in the world, ThunderRidge’s Growl) and getting to attend the National Journalism Convention (which happened to be in Denver this year!) Not only were words the main focus of the entire weekend, but I could literally feel them trembling in my bony fingers as I itched to write. Even riding the light rail early in the morning filled my soul with sleepy words and unknown stories of all the people. The free-spirited guy headbanging and dancing on the train at 7:30 a.m. definitely shook some leftover words of his into the train car. I tried to take some with me. Words are the best kind of souvenirs. I have a giant collection on my shelf, stored in dirty journals.

~future editors-in-chief~

On Friday night, I stayed up late reading my old journals going all the way back to sixth grade, when I really started to believe that I could be a word-artist. It’s crazy to read those words and realize how life can rip me apart one day and glue me back together the next. In middle school, I was so sure that the worries of the day were going to be the end of me. Even freshman year, I thought I knew who I was. I thought I had the rest of high school figured out. Ha, life changes so fast. Some days I feel like I’m cautiously “painting” by numbers so I don’t offend anyone or stand out, while on other days I’m splattering everyone with the bloody words that dance beneath my veins. Those are the days that I feel the most passionate, the most alive. The days I allow myself to actually be myself. They don’t happen as often as I’d like.

 

As much as I love words and sentences and poems and books and lyrics and names, I have to be careful. I can only use words to describe things to a certain extent. Especially with people, words will only ever be half the story. Because even if someone is one word or group of related words, they are also a million other things, and honestly, those words can’t in any way begin to portray the intricate beauty that a single soul contains. I can use words to describe experiences and places and objects, but not people, not a fraction of who they are. After all, human souls are created by a God who isn’t contained by language and words, so we, in our full being and existence, can’t be either. It’s refreshing to think that the venomous tongue of the world can’t speak truth about me.
I recently read a phenomenal passage from a book written by Thomas Merton (thanks again to my youth minister for introducing me to yet another reading that will dance around in my head) I copied the part that stuck out to me most, which in all honesty, was achingly hard for me to read because it is so true about myself and what I do. I live for experiences, but what do they offer me other than momentary pleasures?

I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface…The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God. Ultimately the only way that I can be myself is to become identified with Him in Whom is hidden the reason and fulfillment of my existence.

Who am I really, if you stripped me down and looked inside of me with a flashlight? Little dust fairies would tell you that I’m completely hollow, and my sins echo and bounce off the walls of my skin. They never really leave, and they feed off the “experiences” that I live for. Without a real understanding of who I am in Christ, I’m hollow. I use fake, flowery words to fill up my empty frame, but they die the very next day, and I’m left scrumming for other words that I can momentarily fill myself up with.

 

My biggest fear is that if I shatter, all you’ll have left of me are little porcelain shards that prove how fake I was. Without finding who I am in a perfect, indestructible God, I’m just a broken symphony of splinters, glued hastily together, daintily scooting through life so fragile and careful so I can momentarily keep myself from cracking. Human affections are a beautiful part of life, but they don’t make me any more whole. All too often, they leave me feeling emptier than before.

On this rainy Sunday afternoon, I want to remember that I am painfully fragile, and I can’t use words as my armor. People will come and go, my heart will be dismantled and repaired, but I’m working on finding who I am in Him. I have a feeling I’ll never fully know, but the more I work toward it, the more he’ll fill my hollow body with a silvery, treasure-like soul. His spirit will ooze into every empty area of me and fill it with words of life and truth. These words will be like jewels, and my rococo heart will be decorated with them.

To be myself is to be a saint. I’m working on finding who I am. I still have no clue, but the more I give myself up to God, the more I find out. For now, I’ll continue to obsess over the words that decorate my life, and I’ll remember to recognize the sheer beauty of an ordinary person, because they are a saint. And not even the best words in the universe can begin to describe a saint. We are ripped jean wearing, alt-rock listening, late night dancing saints, and we have to allow ourselves to fully be ourselves to be able to inspire the aching world around us.

 

“I paint flowers so they will not die” ~Frida Kahlo
(I’ve been slightly obsessed with her lately) (she’s great)

 


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