Thursday, February 21, 2008

Words (Pt 2)

Today two of my daughters gave me a perfect illustration for the last post, the one about words, and our need for meaning. One was being rather obnoxious and talking in nonsense words. "Schlreg mehug nopan, so ranis gelush," and so on. It ran on rather long. Got on my nerves a bit, but what interested me was her younger sister's reaction. She put her hands over her ears and started howling, "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!"

Nothing out of the ordinary here, for our house. Perhaps not that odd for your house either. But it intruiged me because I was already thinking about the subject of meaning.

Now Hope does not react this way when her sisters and I speak in Spanish, nor when the older two girls speak in French. Instead she listens intently and always asks what we were saying, what it means. She then repeats it all to herself. She also does this with our many international friends who regularly speak Korean, Mandarin, Turkish and many other languages around her.

But she recongnizes when there is meaning in words and when there isn't, whether she understands them or not. When she has a sense that there is meaning she is attentive. When she can tell there is no meaning, but just nonsense, she is almost frantic in her desire to be away from it.

Don't we all have this inate desire for meaning? Isn't this part of what makes us turn off certain television shows and what brings us back again and again to the great writings, especially the Bible? The one seems intollerably shallow and the other reveals to us new depths of meaning every time we immerse ourselves in it.

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