A few Sundays ago I sat in a congregation of over 700 single adults rapt in attention. A room full of silence was nothing new. At best this group is consistently still and thoughtful. At worst, phones beckon the grown and anesthetize resolve. But it is always quiet regardless of intent. On that particular day however, the words from the speaker’s mouth demanded an intense attention. You could feel it; thick and dense as it seeped inside the fibers of walls and hearts. His message was one of typical edification. He recounted his own prodigal son story and personal prayer and covenant with his Father. While profound, we are spoiled with these types of stories often. I found myself asking why it seemed to bring in such a strong spirit to palpably wash over all in earshot. Yes, he was a strong speaker, with minimal notes, and a commanding presence, but there was something more. But what? I thought about it after he closed his talk and sat down. Was it the music? He began with music- an amazing choir. As the speaker rose after the choir sang he said that he and the singers were the luckiest people in the room because they could shout and yell their testimonies.
Yes, the music brought in a familiar peace and warmed up our hearts to hear, but the words and imagery he used cracked the conventional diction and monotonous phrasing so often heard and repeated time and time again in our meetings. I know the repeated scriptures, expressions, and terms provide a basic framework and are good to hear over and over again, but I feel my testimony deepen and grow when someone speaks or writes with original and personal imagery to articulate their own experiences and certainties. His tone, his words, his presence was so refreshing and uncharacteristic. With his vigor and even edgy remarks he brought peace, somehow tying his own stories together with graceful doctrine and scriptural truths. For example, instead of saying hold to the iron rod, he described the many kinds of grips one could have, the different positions our hands hold, and how the hands of friends and families would feel on your back. The nuanced shades of meanings in his descriptions recalled buried emotions.
As he described the presence of angels he created a veritable vision in my mind of relatives, angels, men, and woman surrounding our everyday holy routines. Ironically my recounting and wording summarizing this experience lack, but in noticing and appreciating his unique and precious way with words, I was reminded of the power of them. Too often lost in the mainstream phrasing and common styles of talks I become robotic in my thoughts. I want to define, deepen and reach to the roots of description as I seek to understand my own place and beliefs. We know language matters, we know words have power, but the imagery and authentic, even unexpected narratives and connections we use can change hearts and minds.
How has imagery and unconventional wording changed or deepened your testimony and understanding?