Imagery and The Word

She Will Find What is Lost by Brian Kershisnick

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?

About Jennie L

(Prose Board) is from Salt Lake. Teaching high school English has taught her many things, including how to sing the parts of speech, and break up hall fights, but perhaps most important, spending her days with words and writing continually reinforces their power. Give her a beach, some dark chocolate, friends and family and she'll be one happy girl.

7 thoughts on “Imagery and The Word

  1. Jennie- I love, love that piece of art. Thank you for sharing it. And your words too.

    Unconventional wording: I love it’s power to reshape the way I look at things. My favorite example is the Reader’s Edition of the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy. The book has the same text we know and revere but flavored and nuanced with the lines turned to prose, paragraphs and such.

  2. This post really resonates with me. A new turn of phrase, a crisp metaphor, a new perspective – ah, these are as vital to my spiritual growth as fresh veggies are to my body. Loved the visual image. Loved the experience/experiment of reading one long unbroken message. Wish I’d been there, too.
    Thank you, thank you!

  3. I have to comment on the piece of art. Last year, when I taught a gospel essentials lesson to a roomful of partial active and new members, I asked them a question I had always wanted to ask a group of LDS people. That is have you ever lost something, searched all over then finally prayed to find it and then found it immediately? Almost every single person raised their hand. I think this is one way physical way that the Lord lets us know he knows and cares about us. It just happens too often (not every time, perhaps, but too often) for it to just be coincidental.

  4. I love this Brian Kershisnik piece and recently bought a copy to hang in my home. Initially when reading the title I thought of losing a material possession of some kind but after further reflection I saw deeper meaning. I believe that angels are especially around us to help if there is a loss of faith or hope. Aren’t they there, too, to bless those who are doing family history and looking for family names, family members who have been lost. Whatever losses we experience in mortality, I am comforted to think that those beyond the veil are aware of us and reach out to help.

  5. I love this piece. It’s one of the few pieces of art that have made me cry. The original is breathtaking.

    I always thought of it as a family history piece, but now I see it as a piece depicting the infinite number of angels that help each of us along in life as we find for ourselves that which is lost.

  6. I thought the art piece was about what women have lost, with the promise that we will find it again.

    But about your beautiful words, Jennie — thank you. I wish it was forbidden to read talks at the pulpit. Don’t you think that would help?

  7. Sandra – so glad you like the picture. I think it has many layers and points of connection no matter who you are.

    Linda – I would have loved for you to been there and have gotten your take. You are right, it is amazing how one turn of phrase can change a meeting.

    JP – what a good question. Interesting that everyone had had that experience! And yes, finding what is lost can range from a simple possession to something much deeper, just like …

    Karen observed:)

    Magpie – I would love to see the original. It definitely sparked something inside of me too!

    Lisa- I would love if it was forbidden to read talks:) Especially if it is in a monotone voice. I do think the piece was about what women have lost and what we will find. I also think it can be interpreted with different facets depending on the observer. Thanks for you words!

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