“Give me Words to speak
Don’t let my Spirit sleep
Cause I can’t think of anything worth saying…”
I don’t know what to say
That hasn’t already been said
I don’t know what to write
That hasn’t already been read
I don’t know what to play
That You haven’t already heard
So here’s my song, You write the words
What should I say to them?
What if I’m failing them?
What should i tell the tonight?
These three Christian musicians seemed to be having difficulty figuring out something to say. It seems to happen often, though some might wish it happened more often to Phillips, Craig, and Dean. From both ends, I’m fascinated by the mini-epidemic of feeling a strong need to say something.
I think this comes from the fact that we come from a sermon- and biblo-centric tradition. We think that our lives come from words (though Christ tried to disabuse us of this notion). We assume that if we have an opportunity to speak, we should. If there is a chance for words, it ought to be taken. We ignore St. Francis’s suggestion that we use words in our preaching only if necessary. Perhaps this comes from a sort of narcissism that we have the answers and we need to share them. Especially if we have an audience, we should say something.
Silence wouldn’t do well on the radio. We dislike silence. We surround ourselves with music and words and television. I struggle to bike to work without the radio on. Perhaps it is that terror of silence that provokes desires in our musicians to speak words, to write songs, even if they have nothing whatsoever to say. Maybe it’s primal instinct that silence means danger. Maybe it’s fear of feeling alone.
I avoid writing things when I have nothing to say, but that has rarely stopped me from writing them anyway. But I will pat myself on the back because at least I don’t write about how I don’t have anything to say. Not usually, anyway.
Then there comes the moment where (hopefully) we realize that we don’t have anything whatsoever to say, or that we had things to say and that the only thing that was reasonable to say was nothing at all. I had that moment almost ten years ago late one night in a Subway restaurant talking to a coworker who had lost someone close to her. The only words that were right to speak were no words at all.