Translated

(This morning has no responsibilities to anyone but myself, and here I am… at 10. A data point, or maybe a handful of-!)

After breakfast I chewed on the latest issue of Image as opposed to my usual Lifehacker and Solitaire. It did indeed feel more nourishing. I have dog-eared lines to show to My Sweetie, marked a book I want to read, and started jumping off of this line:

“The Pentecost event wants to deny the particular significance of any one language[…].”
“Through the Ear,” Lauren F. Winner, Image v.88, p. 118

Winner is reviewing a book that explores scriptural shifts in meaning when moving from Hebrew text read inside rabbinic reading strategies over to English translations standing solitary. Wonderful, magical stuff: my poet heart rejoices to lean words up against each other to discover the different ways they feel and mean. And in that same vein, on the page before, Winner comments, “[T]ranslation also always reveals something.”

So wait, what? How did we go from God revealing Self through layers of words to the words themselves becoming unimportant?
Here, then, is my jump:
Pentecost starts with an amazing divine gift of simultaneous translation. An interesting opposite to shared language: shared truth without having to share language.

What if Pentecost is not about denial of particularity? What if it delivers hyper-particularity, the just-in-time delivery of the essential Truth needed for that person in that moment in order to translate* that person into relationship with Christ, with God, with Spirit?

In my years of writing my poems, I find over and over again that they come out best when I am extremely specific. Oddly, I can’t reach universality through generality; no one identifies with those generic statements. Anchored in my particular, tangible days, other folk rediscover their own particular, tangible times that turn out to be fundamentally like mine. We end up sharing truth despite our divergent starting points.

And I would guess that, if we looped back around to share our starting points, we would reveal yet more in that translation.

 

Pentecost 2016 comes on Sunday May 15, which is three days from now. I’m thinking Pentecost starts with one sort of translation and moves through the rest…from minds, to hearts, to our bodies in action. We remain particularly ourselves, as God intended, alight in the world moving towards God’s kingdom.

*trans·late
/transˈlāt,tranzˈlāt/
verb
1. express the sense of (words or text) in another language.
1a. express in different terms and especially different words.
2. move from one place or condition to another.
3. PHYSICS cause (a body) to move so that all its parts travel in the same direction, without rotation or change of shape.

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