I've made a few gross misunderstandings since coming to Grenoble in french conversation. I always feel thoroughly embarrassed when it happens, despite the fact that I do it so often in english. Perhaps because when I do it in english, it's a reflection of my concentration span rather than my comprehension skills.
It's funny how misunderstanding or simply not knowing the meaning of one word can cause such major communication problems! This weekend for example, I went away with the youth group at church and after dinner on Saturday there was announcement made about how we were going to "faire les châtaignes". Now this caused some excitement but left me completely bewildered since I hadn't the faintest idea what les châtaignes were! In the end I had to ask someone and I eventually managed to work out what it was - see photo below and let me know if you still don't know what it is! :P
It just hit home how important words can be!
Words... so potent, so loaded... I crave them! A couple of weeks ago I discovered many joyous libraries in Grenoble, most notably la biblotheque internatinale. But before I made this discovery I first found la biblotheque centre-ville; just your average french library with lots and lots of books in french. By this point I'd been deprived of books in english for almost 3 weeks (apart from my bible - not necessarily a bad thing!) and so felt drawn to scour the library until I found the one and only thing I could read in english - a copy of Newsweek dating back to April of this year. I devoured it, page by page... it tasted surprisingly good but rather than satisfying merely whetted my appetite. I then munched on a novel in french, the first couple of chapters anyway and was left feeling half-stoked, half-utterly unsatisfied.
It occured to me that words which mean so much can at the same time be so empty, insufficient. I feel this a lot right now, caught between 2 extremes... whilst trying to relate to people in french when my vocab is so limited I often end up resorting to lots of gesturing and sounds and facial expression to get my real meaning across, whereas so much of my communication with folks at home is right now is mostly reliant just on words. Both, though exciting, aren't quite enough.
Thinking about all this hit home the aptness of this description of Jesus. And yet this concept far surpasses my understanding of "word" : He fully expresses God and is satisfying and complete in all that He is and offers us! Mind-blowing!
I am also very very glad that God doesn't simply rely on our words to understand and listen to us and that he reads beneath, right into our souls! :)