A few days ago Marc found a Word Cloud of the Bible via Scot McKnight. We both really liked it, and I’ve been thinking about it off and on since then. Last night before bed (because, without fail, I am inspired to write a post as soon as I’m done brushing my teeth at night), something about the Bible Word Cloud (which is embedded at the end of the post for you to watch) struck me.
What is most obvious in the word cloud is that “Lord”, “God”, “Jesus”, or “King” are the most prominent in every book of the Bible. And yet, what the Bible is ultimately filled with is stories of people — people being people, people often doing some horrible things. So why are the “Lord”-type words all over the place? Besides the fact that, well, it is the Bible?
Well… this is why I don’t think you have to be a Christian at all to appreciate what the Bible Word Cloud is saying about life: “there is another perspective”. When I look back over my life, I wonder what the word clouds would look like for any given day or year or season of life. (You can, of course, do word clouds of blogs too. And I’m sure that if I could do a word cloud of what I wrote in the years when my kids were babies, there would be a lot of “kids”, “frustrated”, “boobs”…)
But I think there are the word clouds of what we thought or felt and the word clouds of what was actually going on. Take my little stint of depression a few years back. You’d have: “poutine”, “bed”, hopeless”, “failure”, “frustrated” (I think “frustrated” is a life-long theme). But now that I see where I’ve ended up because of those poutine-frustrated months, I now see that what the word cloud is really an acknowledgment of the process of “growth”, “hope”, “acceptance”, “love” that went on during that time (and, unfortunately, “bigger thighs” from all the poutine would be there too).
It’s another perspective.
And that’s what the Bible Word Cloud does. It shows that in the middle of the blundering mess that is human history, there is another perspective. There is something deeper going on as humans repeatedly struggle through life and relationships. This Word Cloud reveals a God who is present in our striving to be relational and to understand these lives of ours in which we suffer and are uncertain.
That’s the point of that word cloud. But what about your word cloud? I think there are two ways of approaching our own word clouds:
1) Can you articulate what the big words in the word cloud of your past might be? Is there a difference between what you might have thought the word cloud was in the middle of those experiences and what the word cloud is when you look back at those times?
2) What about the word cloud of today and your future? Is there a way you can orient yourself so that you can see the “deeper” word cloud not just for your past but for your future while you’re living it? It is a simple (but likely very difficult) practice of looking for hope in our experiences.
I think if we all took a bit of time we could see the beautiful humanity that are the word clouds of our lives. And we’d also see how the stories of our lives are similar and connected — even if we have different beliefs and ways of being. Our lives, as confusing and random as they often seem, when looked at from a another perspective, weave together a beautiful song: