“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in silver settings.”
Precious, soul-nourishing, life-building, antioxidizing words.
Like a friend telling me she hopes I am having a “swell week” as I am literally swelling up with red welts all over my body, and most noticeably on my face with swollen lips and ears and cheeks that leave me unrecognizable to myself in the mirror. My friend felt awful for the choice of words. For me it was a laugh out loud medicinal moment. Golden apples.
Such words literally “roll.” That’s a good way of putting the literal reading of the Hebrew in Proverbs 25:11. “Apples of gold in baskets/networks/pictures of silver [is] a word spoken upon its wheels.” We’re talking about words that roll, that move, accelerate – as opposed to ones that sputter and stall. We know the difference immediately when we hear them. Words that find traction and roll, and words that just sit there grinding their gears going nowhere. And we usually wish those who speak such sputtering, stalled words could as readily sense it and graciously stop talking. Or writing.
Listening to a new album tonight that I referenced in my last post, I am finding a treasure trove of such tapuchay-zahav. Each song, each line, each lyric, each rhythm feeds my soul and spirit. I am in awe. Low Roar is a release from Tonequake Records. Their summary of Low Roar? “Low Roar is Ryan Karazija. Ryan Karazija is Low Roar. Ryan moved to Iceland, the winter was dark, and this is what happened!” This no doubt accounts for how each song rolls as so many tapuchay-zahavs into my soul. Words that flow out of dark winters in strange, unwelcoming lands nourish us like few others.
Witness track 4. Patience. Amazing. I sit with this reddened, itching, stinging, burning skin all over my body. Misery. Endless. How long, Lord? And yet I sense there is something very significant in what is surfacing on my skin, something far beyond physical cause and effect. I suspect on that physical level I am witnessing the results of an accumulation of toxins in my system through this chemo regimen that the body is purging quite literally through my skin. As a result I find myself disoriented, discomboluated, discouraged, dejected. “I’m sick of losing my patience, out of time, lacking rhythm, barely conscious, over-sensitized, feeling weaker as I stumble around.” No words could be so spot on with where I’ve been the past few days. “I clean out my eyes, feeling nauseous, as the world spins around.” Got me.
But more is at work here. This is more than a purging of physical toxins. I suddenly see the picture unfold like an “apostrophe hitting my brain.” I find myself praying for three days, “Lord I’m ready for you to remove the hives, the rash, the itching, any time now. Any time. Still waiting. Hello?” But then I also find myself praying, “Abba, there is a reason this is here. Help me to see it. Give me the grace to see, to discern. And then, get it the hell out of my system!” I’m really hoping Abba doesn’t mind me cussing in my prayers, because I do.
A parable in my skin unfolds. This entire journey through anemia, cancer and chemo is about the purging through my skin of toxins I don’t even realize are there. Toxins of narcissim, self-absorption. So many toxins I can’t even name. But they are being purged. So much festers within us. So much needs to be purged up through the skin of our souls. And eventually, it will. One way or another. Sooner or later. It will surface for all to see in our own swollen lips and ears and faces. It seems to take us being in places where the winter is dark, our own disorienting, paralyzing Iceland to unleash this purging through our skin.
Last night as I lay in bed in the most frustrating eight hours of trying but not being able to sleep in recent memory, I literally saw images parading before my eyes. Faces. Faces not of friends and loved ones, but sneering faces of all that is toxic in me. “Get out of my mind.” I literally spoke those words silently to each apparition as it passed before me. “Get out of my mind.” And now I hear the song, see the lyric.