Babies talk. Ma, Da, Ba. Easy to say sitting there at the front of the mouth. Simple sounds swell into words. Baby now has more than cries and smiles and bubbles for making self known.
Words grow. They are strong for the telling of wants and needs, for the speaking of pains and pleasures. They are for the laugh that makes the belly ache. For the sharing of woes that washes the cheek with salty water. Words are for the giving of information and for the sharing of the heart.
Words on paper are there for the reading. And so the child is taught. The first word is conquered. Two words form a sentence. Sentences make a story that is fun for the reading. Sentences breed essays, chapters, and whole books.
The child grows. They learn this secret: books are for more than the telling of stories. They are for time travel to the pyramids, the Old West, the Great War. They are for understanding the world around us – trees and birds and clouds. Stars and black holes and quarks. Politics, economics, and foreign policy. Books are a tool for the training of the mind. And then there is this truth: easy books may grow the mind a little, but hard books fill and expand the mind.
The running fast and playing hard during a game begets lungs that pant for air, muscles that long for oxygen. Exercise for the body is hard. Exercise for the mind is even harder. Reading the demanding sentence strains the mind. The new idea must be chewed and savored and swallowed. This exercise for the mind makes us long for the simple.
The determined reader stays the course. There is this to learn, that in perseverance the labor grows lighter. The pushing and pushing through complex thoughts and ideas scoops out a place deep inside. When the understanding comes, the hollow is filled and the soul is nourished.
There is this kind of poverty that is hard to glimpse. It is the poverty of the mind and it bequeaths a poverty of the soul. A poverty that does not see past the next meal or party or game. A poverty that moves one along with no stopping to drink in the words that nourish the soul.
But there is the soul that has lived being nourished by strong words. That soul begins to ask: Is there a purpose for the universe? Is there a purpose for me? There is a pushing and pushing for answers that scoops the inside hollow so deep that the soul wonders: Can this hollow ever be filled?
Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and philosopher said this:
There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.’
Think deep and drink deep. It all begins with words.