“All the big words I know are little ones –
Sky is a little word, but it is all infinity,
All of height and depth and blue and air and sun and sea…
If is a little word,
But it is all might have been, might be, was and will be…
All the big words I know are little ones.”
Don’t we tend to get caught up in big things?
Big drama, world politics, global finance. Big, newsy issues capture us on a rushing current of importance. We watch talk shows with experts, follow twitter explosions, read and re-post links on Facebook. We form opinions on issues larger than our sphere of influence.
Eighty years ago, my aunt copied this poem into a composition book. Perhaps it was an assignment or maybe it spoke something to her. Maybe she saw the lighthearted irony that small words describe truly, great, big things.
Maybe she thought of some that came to my mind, as well:
I love words. I love to string them along like beads on golden threads and feel the balanced weight of them upon my chest, hear them clatter upon one another making tiny, tinny music or full, rounded symphonies of sound.
I love the glorious pause in the silence following the last of the lexis of a book—to think, all those words strung together along a theme and they culminate in one, final word! They tell truth (or lies) and the stories that that need to be told. I love how words give to my imagination a language with which to dream and a voice with which to speak.
We can write them, or shout them, swallow them or sing them. We use them to introduce ourselves, do business, make marriage vows, say goodbye, encourage and teach. We use so many small words to hurt, to manipulate, to heal or to say important things, like yes, I’d like that and no, I’d rather not, I forgive you, I love you, I’m sorry, you’re important to me, stay with me, leave now, I believe you, here I am, thank you.
Maybe big things are quite big enough without large words to encumber them. When I consider the sky or the sea, or the immensity of a star, there isn’t much to say – for the great, vast reality of these things speak for themselves. I consider them and one compact word envelops me: awe.
God is a little word. People wrestle with and even fight about how to describe him, ignore him, praise him and find him. Jesus is described in John 1 as The Word. Jesus used two little words to describe himself that caused outrage, repentance, indeed a revolution: I AM. Those were little words that made a big difference.
All the big words I know are little ones, like
you. are. loved.
What short, brief words mean the most to you?
How do you feel about the profound being encapsulated in the minuscule?