The Word That I Would Read

If I was to read as slowly, as carefully, as truly, as reading demands, I would never read more than a page, or a paragraph, or a sentence, or a word, yes, a word, but I would need only to read this word again and again, to make it say, not all that it was meant to say, not all that it could ever say, but all that I could make it say, or, perhaps better, perhaps gentler, perhaps more hospitable, all that I could ask it to say, and this asking, this interrogation, this inquisition, which would certainly remain, however gentle and hospitable, without doubt an inquisition, would become eternal, or become eternally, or be coming eternally, or some other combination of these words that I cannot, but nevertheless feel I must, imagine, but the word that I would read without end, the single word that I would interrogate without end, that would become the beginning and the ending of so much, of who can tell how much, would first need me to find it, would need me to read every word that has been written or that might be written, so that I might be certain of it, so that I might have chosen it above all others, to be read time after time, and this is why it is the word that I can never find, that I will certainly never find, however much I look for it, however much I anticipate the moment of finding it, however much I might desire to savour it, at last, on my tongue.

  1. john Jantunen said:

    I agree, it is the search for such a word that we must savour. Finding it is only finding out what it is not, what it can never be, and troubled is the brow who discovers that his means has an end and that the end is always so mean.

  2. John,

    Yes, “finding it is only ever finding what it is not.” Well said.

  3. Allison said:

    This reflection about word reminds me of the elusive search for reading, hearing, making space for the Word, the Spirit in our life. Tis a slippery thing, like a moonbeam shining in the twilight hours or dark of nighttime. It is always present somewhere illuminating the landscape and, from time to time, our place in it. We may follow it as it travels or we may remain where we are await its return, but if we try to anchor it in one particular place or time, it loses its meaning and slips through our minds.

  4. Allison,

    George MacDonald has an image like this in Lilith. Vane, the main character, is given a winged book to guide him through Faerie, and it leads him truly until he tries to grasp it, then it becomes nothing more than a book. To grasp the absolute word, the spirit of the word, is always to strip it of any meaning at all.

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