Wordless Speech: Growls

Wordless Speech: Growls

Wordless Speech: Growls.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the teaching of Yahweh, and in His instructions he meditates day and  night.” (Psalm 1:1-2).

GROWL, the Hebrew word hagah – an expansive word that can mean growl, murmur, moan, mutter, meditate; this word has been used in the moan of grief (Is. 16:7), the growl of a lion (Is. 31:4), the thoughtfulness of meditation (Ps. 1), or even the murmurs of a dove (Is. 38:14); this growling or murmuring can be in the context of pleasure, grief or anger.

“The word meditate comes from the Hebrew word hagah, which is a bodily action. It involves murmuring and mumbling words, getting the feel of the meaning as the syllables are shaped by larynx and tongue and lips. Isaiah used this word for the sounds that a lion makes over its prey. A lion overs its catch and a person over the Torah act similarly. They both growl quietly in pleasurable anticipation of taking in what will make them more themselves, that which will make them strong and lithe and swift. There is a certain kind of writing that invites this kind of reading, soft purrs and low growls as we chew on its meaty morsels. Such writing needs a special kind of reading – a dog-with-a-bone kind of reading.” (Eugene Peterson, Conversations, Ps. 118).

Nonverbal actions like this may be wordless, but that doesn’t mean they are meaningless. Many actions that don’t involve language do involve a deep response to God, and so are full of thought and feeling, and are thus profound and meaningful. Some things are better expressed without words. Some actions are worth a thousand words.