Friday, October 24, 2008

Saying What We Mean

I try to be careful about language most of the time. The old English major in me just won't die, I guess. One of the best interpretative tools I've ever found was a statement from a professor of mine years ago who told us again and again never to overlook the possibility that a writer means exactly what (s)he says. My teacher usually said that in response to some foolish interpretation one of us had made of something we had read. Like many, I guess we preferred what we wanted the writer to say over what (s)he had actually said. Our teacher, of course, had his own ideas about what the writer was saying, and his ideas were usually more valuable than ours.
We've been caught up in the midst of selling a house in Alabama and buying one in Florida and trying to negotiate all the steps in that process on a pretty tight schedule. I caught myself one day this week telling a friend that I thought it was all going to work out on schedule if the stars all aligned in just the right order.
I don't really believe that the alignment of the stars has much, if anything, to do with getting two real estate deals closed and movers scheduled. Even though both the friend to whom I was speaking and I are people of faith, for some reason, I guess I found it easier to use secular language than to say that I am depending in this, as in all things, on God's care and guidance.
Maybe we're all a little hesitant to sound pious or religious. (Those of you who know me know that that's not usually an option for me.) I don't believe there is necessarily anything wrong with my alignment of the stars imagery, but I know there's nothing wrong with acknowledging my dependence on God.
Maybe someday we'll remember that some people think we mean exactly what we say, and we'll learn to be more careful about what we say.

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