What You Feel But Cannot Name

I remember today the great joy of naming for others what they experience and cannot quite put into words. Certain stories resonate deeply because they reveal us to ourselves.

Writing sheds new light so we can see; writing has everything to do with snatching words like fireflies and holding them still to illuminate the dark night.

I talk back to the writer: Yes! I feel this way! Yes, I know just what you mean! Yes, that’s what it’s like for me, too. 

I recall the clarity I felt when I read Frederick Buechner’s Longing for Home in college and how he gives expression to the homesickness we carry with us always, like a splinter in our foot we feel every step we take. I remember reading C.S. Lewis and taking a deep breath of clearer air because he named for me the longing, the mystery, and the joy rattling around in me trying to get out.

It’s like when you read the Bible and suddenly meet yourself. Hello me. This is me. Jesus comes to articulate (a great verb: the art of speaking well and also to form a joint between two things) the essence of the unseen God. When Jesus speaks, we recognize what we’ve been longing for all our lives but could never name.

Charged with the task of illuminating and naming, we keep pressing the pen to the page.


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