Yesterday I had a meeting with my Hispanic congregation. We talked about many things, including the language of Mixteco. Many of the congregation come from southern Mexico where different dialects of this language are spoken, but the dialects are really distinct from one another. You could almost call it a family of languages. I had found online audio recordings of portions of the Bible in a couple of these dialects that I played for them. With the first one, quizzical or blank looks met me. No, that one didn’t work. On the second one however, eyes lit up with understanding, smiles broke out in comprehension. It wasn’t exact, but it was close enough to warm the heart.
We have a friend living with us who is trying to learn Spanish with an app on his phone. He often asks me, “Why do they say it like that?” The answer is, “Because we do.” It’s hard for him to see the “logic” behind Spanish, if you can call it that, even as the “logic” behind English, if you can call it that, is so natural to him as to be invisible behind his speech.
We all have a language in our hearts, usually that of our mothers. It’s the programming language of our inner motherboards. We default to it for math, choosing conjunctions, and dreaming. And yet, even this symbol system that seems so entirely woven into the fabric of the world, is a step away from reality. It builds the worlds we live in and tells the stories we live by, but it does not capture raw reality. Raw reality is like the end of the rainbow, always one step further. In the end even the poets and the mystics fall silent. One does not capture it, one approaches it.
Clearly, the true heart-speak of the human being is deeper than language.