Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Putting Words To It

Recently I read Elie Wiesel's memoir Night for the first time.  I am not quite sure why I put off reading this book for so many years, because it really is an exquisite book that recaptures one of the most horrific times in modern day history.

What struck me most while I was reading this book, and ever since I have tried to talk about it, is the idea of describing this event.  I have a hard time calling the Holocaust an event, or even a period of history.  It all somehow seems wrong to try to put labels on it that we associate with other things in life - like weddings, parties, the Renaissance, etc, etc.  Wiesel captured some of this feeling in his introduction to the latest edition of his book.  I cannot imagine experiencing what he went through, what he saw, what he felt, and then trying to use words to define these things.  Words would be forever tainted with that time in his life.  The word night will no longer mean anything but the darkness that came upon him and his family.  Even words that should mean life and beauty - like bread, soup, snow - all mean starvation and death.  Being chosen no longer means that you are set apart for God; no, being chosen, selected meant death.

Sometimes the words that we use so frequently to describe times like this lose meaning.  We can say evil, tragedy, horror - but these words have made us numb.

I say all of this, one to try to express my feelings about this book, but two because there is a danger in the Christian community that is growing.  We are becoming numb to words that we use every week.

Sin, Grace, Mercy, Worship, Glory, even the name Jesus...

Have these become labels?  Have they lost all sense of their true meaning?  Do we constantly say these words with phrases over and over again that we are numb to what they actually mean?  Do we still ponder and spend time in wonder on these words, or do have we become so flippant, so careless, so thoughtless in our actions and words that these can role off our tongues without a pause of reflection on what we are uttering?

Let us never forget the words that define our life with Him, let us never forget what they mean, and Lord, let us never take them for granted or cease to wonder at the meaning of them.


  1. I love this so much! It's almost like we need to search and rediscover the true beauty and meaning behind some of the most powerful words and names. Good word Stephanie!

  2. This was simply great. You made some very valid points that I will definitley take with me. I strongly believe that people take those words very lightly nowadays and that's just wrong.. Thanks for opening my eyes Steph! Blessings :)