Words are funny creatures- they just won’t sit still and stay where you put them. I mean- tepid, usually associated with cups of tea that no one wants to drink anymore, somehow transfers itself to an emotional feeling…generally one thats not too good, and can’t be restored by 2mins in the microwave.
Grey- once upon a time it was just a colour, now its a mood, a way of describing things that are neither one thing or another, or a gentle way of saying ‘fairly rubish’. I’m feeling a bit grey. Its a grey day. Does that refer to the colour of the sky, or the fact that things are wearing me down?
And mild- sometimes good (the weather is mild- which it is, by the way), sometimes not so good (its a bit…mild- whether thats a comment on a curry or a speech, you now its not encouraging).
the thing is, that sometimes what we want is something gently warm, neither one thing or another, and gentle. I’m often trying to find ways of describing what we do in church so that others who’ve never been might understand what I’m talking about. On one level I want to use rich language that is full of imagery: a community of celebration with faith and worship at its core; but actually, what about the people who find peace in quiet and gentleness? ‘Come to church, it’ll be just tepid- just what you need!’… its not quite right, or true, and its certainly not indicative of what we hope for, even if it is honest to people’s present level of spirituality.
Language that’s strong can be just as difficult as language thats… mild. A friend of mine always talks about the importance of naming things, because from that point on its possible to develop a community character around that image. I often allow things to happen without a name so that identity can emerge over time. I’m not sure which is better.
As we progress through Advent, i’m aware that people have a limited amount of time to give to anything- there are so many areas of our lives screaming for priority. Its important therefore to use the right language, and to use it well, to communicate to those around us the hope that we have, at a level and in terms that can be understood.