Celtic OrthoPraxis: Deep Speaking

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Deep speaking, the result of deep listening, is that weighty, verbal response that comes from deep within, from our very core, from the soul. It has nothing to do with the tone of our voice  – soprano to bass – but everything thing to do with communication about the human journey, a significant event, something that ‘hits home’, that means so much to us, and usually is ‘unpacked’ and cherished over time.

Deep speaking examples can be heard at State openings of Parliament (- one hopes), and in the work(s) of Taliesin, the writings of Lady Julian of Norwich, Rumi, Hafiz, St John of The Cross, Caedmon, sacred text(s) etc, in prayers, rituals and affirmations. But, only when we ‘go deep’. How often have we read great words glibly? Go deep!

“I am not eloquent.” –  Moses talking to God

Imagine Moses coming down that mountain, stuttering – probably not so good at speaking at the best of times, but even less so after a cosmic encounter, a numinous event – and we would probably be the same. Imagine, Jesus’s parables, a sage, or a koan, a story of great meaning ‘wrapped up’ in the ordinary but containing a great truth, being told. Imagine a new-born babies smile.  These are all noteworthy events that have evoked, or do evoke, a response, and it’s then that the potential for deep speaking takes over. Go deep!

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.” – Cochise (“Like Ironweed”)

Deep speaking is the attempt to put into words the ‘reaction’ to profound truths and/or events. Sometimes we stutter and stumble, sometimes we’re less than eloquent, and sometimes, as if from somewhere else, the words (and meaningful ones at that) just flow. However, I believe there is a ‘secret’ here: eloquent or stuttering, our response to the numinous is deep speaking, regardless! The measure is not about eloquence, not on the amount of words used, but on the intention to verbalise, and depth of meaning, and power.

I have listened to lots of hand-fasting and wedding speeches, eulogies at funerals too, and I never measure eloquence, voice projection, the timbre of a voice (and who doesn’t want a ‘crisp radio voice’?). No, I listen to the meaning, the weight, the force behind the words spoken – and not just the words, but the meaning, what they have said about the person in question and whether they have ‘summed that person up’, and invariably they have. They have achieved deep speaking, and in all cases it was so moving

“Choose your words meticulously and then let them rumble up from some deep furnace of conviction.” –  Ron Suskind,

And, deep speaking, as a response to deep listening, occurs when we allow what we’re hearing to pass beyond our mind, and into our heart. Ah, then we can respond. Ah, then we’ve achieved deep listening, and, ah, the natural result is deep speech.

“Meaningful prayer is a matter of the heart, not the eloquence of the words.” – Elizabeth George

Deep speaking, then, can be in response to a numinous encounter, to a babies smile, an awesome sunset, need only be a few words; but oh, those words are powerful, effective, and, well….they’re deep. They come from, not the mind, but from the heart and go straight to the recipient’s heart. Deep speaking is something, we can all do, do do, and should cherish. So, go deep! Speak from the heart!

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