Archives for posts with tag: language

It happened on a Sunday night, even though I had been a good girl and gone to church that morning …” Ruined by Ruth Everhart, Tyndale House Publishers, 2 August 2016

Why do you read a book? To be entertained? To be informed? To have your own beliefs confirmed.. or maybe even challenged? To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have read this book if it hadn’t have been written by someone I have met, know a little and have travelled with a little. So I read this book with curiosity. It is a memoir about a traumatic event, about a rape, about the rape of Ruth. I’ve read memoirs and biographies before, but never of someone I know. I read this book often with my heart pounding, sometimes feeling guilty that I was being voyeuristic, intruding on such a horrific and intimate event and its aftermath.

This book is a compelling read. Ruth knows the power of language – of words that create and construct beliefs and worlds, and of words that are often unspeakable – like ‘rape’. In her writing she evokes all the senses. We see, we hear, we smell, we feel. There is such beautiful and challenging clarity in the details she records – the way that in seeing mug shots of black criminals the height markers behind their faces are ‘forever taking their measure’. In another scene where she and friends are sat in sodden woollen jumpers drying out after being out in a storm, there is ‘.. the brown sugar smell of burning wool.’ We remember the senses experienced in our dreams, which also create and construct worlds and offer new possibilities.

I think this is a visceral book. It is about matter. It is about what matters. Body and spirit matter. Words matter. Theology matters. Beliefs matter. Questions matter. Women and men matter. Ruth matters. Love matters.

And I am glad to have read this book. It matters.


31st December 2012

Thinking back over the past year, I can think of quite a few times and occasions when I’ve felt as if I’m talking a different and incomprehensible language to those around me. (Even though ostensibly the people present share a common native language, or supposedly a common belief or faith!)

Fortunately, for my sanity and sense of integrity, there have also been spirit-lifting times and occasions when I have been delighted to find myself heard and understood.

It is important for all of us to persist in making ourselves understood and in seeking out the people and places that make us feel at home, because there is a shared language. As the year ends, it’s time to say thank you. Thank you to friends and family for encouraging me to find the words I need to share. Thank you to the wonderful storytelling community from the Craft of Storytelling, Emerson College that I still feel warmly connected to. Thank you to the Oxford Ukuleles and fun-filled music making. Thank you to Joined-Up Singing for heart-felt community singing.


I’m currently reading and enjoying a book by the inspiring Joy Mead, and loving the way it speaks the language I’m often searching for. A Way of Knowing is about small things and little occasions, the smells, colours, sounds, the looking, perceiving, thinking, remembering of our lives and the love that makes them significant. It celebrates the wisdom of poetry, stories, and the precious silence beyond words. Here’s just one quote to share:

Perhaps we need to find new ways to gather together as human beings to honour life, to worship… Free from absolute and supernatural claims, free from destructive, harmful dogma, free from the unbelievables with which many have struggled for years, but true to poetry and story, we can maybe celebrate all of life’s moments fully and wholly and be open to words of exploration, lament and celebration that all can share...  we can move to an open place with a language of connection, shared values and shared humanity.”

So as 2013 beckons, may you find the language you need to share, and people and places to share it with.

From Dag Hammarskjöld: For all that has been – thanks. To all that will be – yes.