Things can get heavy.
A staggering piece of insight, I know, but I think that sometimes the simple stuff, the obvious stuff, the stuff we can so easily rush past because they are so familiar can still be important.
And, heaviness can mean several things can’t it?
There’s, obviously, the measure of how heavy a thing is – for instance, is the barbell you’re trying to lift is heavier than the one you were lifting last workout; is the diet working, and is your waistline reducing? Unfortunately, it’s “No, no and no” on that particular set of questions.
Then there’s a sense of seriousness – maybe a momentous choice is looming, or a critical juncture appearing and the ramifications of any choice hangs over you like the proverbial sword of Damocles, or an anvil suspended by a thread. Fortunately, I think, I don’t have that much experience of such portentous times.
Or maybe heaviness carries a sense of sorrow or regret – a place where your heart and soul seem crushed and despondent; where you feel as though you’ll never recover from that wound, that scar, that hurt. My experience is that everyone carries such things – whether consciously or not, but again I think I’m fortunate that I don’t have a litany of lament that sings louder than my joys … I’d hate to carry such a weight.
There’s another feeling too, the feeling that whatever is going on is important, significant, and full of powerful potential, that whatever is happening in and around you is momentous and meaningful. And, maybe this is the one that we tend to discount or rush by, mostly because we think that we don’t carry such significance in ourselves and our very ordinariness … I don’t think that’s true by the way – but I know plenty of people who seem to doubt their value, their consequence, their essential, substantive worth. Perhaps that’s a weight worth picking up …
There are probably many more meanings and an inference to heaviness, maybe the idea of influence or of a burden for instance, but you get my drift … heaviness is about more than mere weight.
I’ve had this idea of ‘weight’ in my head for a couple of weeks now; someone prayed for me a couple of weeks ago and a phrase, “A weight of words,” seemed to lodge itself in my thinking then … and since.
I’m not sure what it means, but I’ve been doing a little digging around … trying to lift some intellectual weight perhaps …
And, I found a word.
It’s a word used in the Old Testament which is one of the words translated as ‘Glory’ that has caught my attention. At its root kabod has the common meaning of “to be heavy” – the idea being, I suppose, that the writers of Scripture wanted to the idea that the honour, majesty and glory of Yahweh would have a ‘real’ feeling to it – as having an almost physical weightiness to it. (And, in all honesty, I’ve felt something equating to that sometimes – that immanent feeling, that palpable presence, that electricity in the atmosphere that Christian jargon would exclaim about as the presence of God, or the presence of the Holy Spirit.)
Rooting around further, it turns out that kabod also lends itself to the nouns for ‘liver’, ‘interior,’ and ‘soul’ in Semitic languages … and that intrigues me.
This idea, “the weight of words,” initially had me thinking that there might be a sense of importance or seriousness to words I might say … which sounds pompous and aggrandising when I write it out, but honestly isn’t meant to be that way. What I felt was more the feeling that I might need to take better care than I usually do when I speak due to my tendency to be less than gentle with my language, so that rather than give full range to the sharper edges of my tongue I might need to engage the clutch in my brain before pressing the accelerator on my mouth!
(It must be quite nice to be a naturally considered and considerate person, someone who can instinctively moderate their language and communication so that they’re never left with the feeling that they might have just thrown a verbal grenade into the middle of a bad situation … Ah well, it’s a good job I’ve got a big mouth … it has to fit both my feet sometimes!)
But, in finding that ‘glory’ and ‘soul’ and ‘interior’ might be involved – however peripherally – my thinking is less about the potential for my words to wound, and more about the notion that words, even my words, can speak to the heart of things, to the very interior of situations, to the guts, the centre, the real and weighty issues at hand.
So what if, instead of my recurring desire to sound important, the weight of my words was, and is, supposed to speak into what others are involved in. What if, instead, it’s all about hearts, souls, interiors and guts?
What if instead of wanting to sound important – like a politician at the despatch box, pontificating about policy and scoring points like they’re still in the debating society – what if I realise, that we realise, that our words are supposed to put a secure, substantial, weighty foundation, a bedrock of ‘glory’ into someone’s very soul?
Now for me, there are connotations to this linked to the occasional preaching
I do, but more than that – and much more importantly than that public display – is the idea that our speech, our words, our encouragement, and our criticism should all be thought about in terms of ‘soul,’ or ‘heart’ or ‘interior’ rather than verbal dexterity and cleverness.
Then our words would have real, substantial, significant weight.
Then there might be some soul. Then there might be some glory. Then there might be kabod.