The Kinematics of Going Through the Motions

Sitting in the basement of Wycliffe College one evening, I heard music from a small speaker behind my head. It was a modern praise song, and the words were not unlike any others that I had heard in church throughout my life. I had long since stopped feeling compelled by these songs in the way that I once was, but at that moment the words struck me with the full force of their intended meaning. I recognized them as the thing they spoke of, and not as a familiar phrase—because they were in German.

It amazes me that the meaning of a thing can be renewed so completely by setting it to unspoilt words. The phrases that are familiar to me in English have become associated not with what they literally mean, but what they most often mean when I hear them.

If there is any meaning in life that we hope to keep indefinitely renewed within our minds, we must not pretend that it is impervious to the scourge of banality. One can get used to anything. To cherish these ideas is to exercise care in their expression, and to tether them to such expression with a greater portion of our actions.


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