Do you remember the word “very”? We were taught it was an adverb to give force to an adjective: “difficult”would become “very difficult”, “complicated”, “very complicated”. “Very” is hardly used now, its place taken by “incredibly” as in “incredibly difficult”/”incredibly complicated”. “Very” is now a stop-gap word whilst we look for another word, as in “it’s very sort-of . . .”
Does it matter, you snort. Do you snort? You are right. Nothing matters, really, except love, money, power and heaven: but everything else is interesting, more or less, very or incredibly, sort of thing, like, I mean, you know, in’it?
Do you enjoy our limp link words? I do. We don’t write them but we do speak them. Our favourites are em or ur as in “Today em I want to ur speak about inter-governmental balistic missals” (cough nervously after long words). “Em, as you know, ur in a manner of speaking em, please don’t interrupt.”
Do you talk to God like that? I hope you do, truly; stumbling to find the right words, pausing to shape the prayers of praise, love, request, longing. If we only deliver speeches to God, learned by heart, known since childhood – are we thinking, praying or only reciting?
Prayer is from the heart and needs time and effort or the silence of quiet understanding. None of us minds if the person we love is stuck for words. We wait, especially for children, until they find those words while they say em and ur and um, um. It is genuine conversation. We are not tape recorders, words every ready: we speak and we pray from the heart, the mind translating the heart into words. Not always easy, sometimes very difficult. Right? Absolutely – sorry, I mean yes.
Praying from the heart, stumbling over words, filling familiar words and phrases with love – that’s prayer. In the presence of God we speak or are still. It is the silence of eternity and we are lost in time. You know what I mean?
Today is Education Sunday. We celebrate the gift of our wonderful minds, capable of knowing and understanding so much, and the work of our schools in guiding our pupils, students, to the fullness of their places in the university of life. May our Divine Chancellor bless us with wisdom and give us all a First class Honours Degree.