If I were to say to you “there is a fox sitting in my garden enjoying the morning sun”, you would probably know what I mean by the word ‘fox’.
However, if I were to say to you that “God inspired me this morning”. Then we have a very different situation. Would you actually know what I meant by the word ‘God’?
So this article is primarily about language, and how our inherited language shapes the way we think and how we relate to our world. In turn, the way we think and what we experience shapes our language. This is one of the reasons why the historical meaning of a word can change over time (hint), and why new words are sometimes needed.
The only reason I am able to write this blog, and in turn hope that you can understand what I mean, is through a commonly understood shared language where words have precise meanings associated with them. In this case it is the English language.
Is God Just a 3 Letter Word?
In the English language at least, God is a three letter word. The real question I would like to ask is, does it have a common agreed upon meaning?
Technically, you could say that it does have a common agreed upon meaning. Why? Because we can go to an English language dictionary and look-up the word God and see what this word means in our language at the present time.
However, what I would question is whether when people say they love or believe in God or say they don’t believe in God, do they actually fully know what they mean by the word? That is, are they even thinking about the same concept underpinning this word?
Is your definition (or definitions) of the word “God” one you were given by your education, one based on a religious and cultural tradition, one your peer group promotes or one you invented yourself when you were very young? Or some combination of these approaches?
Reflections on a Word.
If we bear in mind the observation that words shape the way that we think and how words can influence our experience of our world, then maybe some words deserve a closer inspection.
I would suggest that if you periodically contemplated what the word “God” means to you, and followed up on that contemplation, then your understanding and experience of what this word means to you will be enriched through this contemplative process.
We could also add other key life-words to this meditation process; words such as love, health, wealth, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, wisdom, compassion etc. Perhaps these words have more than one meaning, as words often do. For instance, the word ‘the’ has over a dozen different meanings in English, depending on context. And perhaps their meaning for us will change through our lives as we mature and experience more of living.
And in time, as your understanding deepens through the contemplative process, then maybe you will be blessed with experiences where you are literally ‘lost for words’; for words and the concepts they represent can never fully capture our rich living human experience of life.
© David R. Durham