A Rock Band from Sydney Australia named Sick Puppies sings woefully that love has gone bust because “too many words, too many words, too many words.” It seems possible that the band’s name may have contributed to the demise, but maybe not.
But “too many words” is a good line. I think sometimes people use too many words, including religious words.
At the wrong time.
Maybe that is why when I first picked up the little devotional book drawn from the life and writings of Teresa of Avila, I only slightly suppressed an inelegant eye rolling. Okay, so I didn’t suppress it. The book title is Let Nothing Disturb You.
It’s not that I don’t know the crucible of her life that was the context for her poem (by the same title). She was a nun living during the confusion and violence of the Reformation and Counter Reformation era of Europe in the 1500’s. She was scrutinized by friends and foes, and eventually came under the critical eye of the Spanish Inquisition because of her teaching and writing. Her male accusers are reported to have said that theology ought to be left to the men, and that she should “stick to her sewing.”
Still, she continued in her pursuit of union with God, a belief/doctrine that to this day might be key to finding peace in the middle of our own chaotic time and place.
Still, I’m sympathetic to my own knee jerk response to words that seem too pious, too untimely, and maybe a substitute for actually doing anything about the problems that beset us.
I hope you will join us Sunday in DiscipleChurch at 8:30 in Leonard Chapel to continue with these ideas. For now, I leave you with two things to think about.
1. Is it worth considering that religious jargon (even the ubiquitous quoting of Scripture on t-shirts and Facebook postings, etc.) can add more heat than light?
2. The above point made — religious words combined with action, and often restraint from action, help us make sense of words like
Nada te turbe
Nada te espante
Todo se pasa
Dios no se muda
Todo lo alcanza
Quien a dios tiene
Nada le falta
Solo Dios basta
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
obtains all things
Whoever has God
God alone suffices.
— St. Teresa of Avila
So you know I’m not completely in a bad mood about these words, watch the video below to hear a beautiful piece of music composed for the 500th birthday of Teresa. Through the wonders of technology, nuns from all over the world join their voices, singing from their particular locations, to form a virtual choir to sing Let Nothing Disturb You.