Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Language Limits ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Language Limits ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

When I was in school, I took required classes in a foreign language. None of what I learned stuck. I did make it through graduation; but not much foreign language made it through me.

Today, sad to say, I'm nearly worthless at anything other than English. So I had a surprise on a recent trip, when I attended a church service in Quito, Ecuador - and found it richly meaningful. Oh, a few words of Spanish came through. I guessed that when one of the people conducting the service referred to el Seor, it meant the Lord. And a scriptural verse on the wall, "Conoceris la verdad, y la verdad os har libres," I knew to be the much-loved quotation of Christ "Ye shall know the truth and the truth, shall make you free" (John 8:32). But my surprise wasn't at deciphering a few words and phrases. It was at how much was communicated beyond the limits of human language.

What was communicated? First and foremost, love. Love was showered on me and my fellow travelers. The congregation was so filled with love that it made little difference we did not speak the same language. They loved the truth they were sharing, loved us, and very evidently loved one another. Their love washed over us and made the message come alive with warmth and meaning.

Second, they communicated conviction. Just listening to one woman reading from the Bible, I was struck by her certainty that what she was imparting was the truth. The whole worship service helped fortify my own conviction in the Word of God. It helped me renew my resolve to live a greater Christian love.

The behavior, and perhaps more important the attitude, of those people spoke volumes, understandable volumes. More real communication and more real communion took place than perhaps occurs in most same-language encounters.

Now that my trip is over, this small episode has become a primer for me on true communication. There is a language of the heart, in which the thoughts underpinning the words are both authentic and spiritual, soaring over barriers. When the intent of a person's communication is to express God, who is the divine Love and knows all, the usual limits of language begin to fall, and we find we all have a spirit of understanding - a kind of universal language. …

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