Tuesday, 27 November 2018

In the know by Tracy Williamson

The power of words to create a deeper understanding of what cannot be easily seen is an amazing reality and responsibility.  Some say that a picture speaks more than a 1000 words and I agree that it is very powerful.  I have pictures all over my house, most of them chosen because they have stirred a deep response within me.  A picture truly can get to the heart of an emotion or give the shape and form to what has only previously been imagined.  Yes there is something about words and the way they are put together that enable you to understand, empathise and identify.  So those of us who write novels will create characters whose viewpoint becomes our lens on life even if personality wise they are very different to us. Somehow the act of creating that character enables their feelings and experiences to be opened up so that we are seeing them from within not just gazing at the external view. Not all of us are novelists (I've never written one myself though I would love to) but the principle still holds for all forms of writing.  Think of the Psalms and the way their writers' joys, sorrows, longings and fears become reflections of our own:
'One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.' Psalm 27:4
'Why are you downcast O my soul?' Psalm 42:5
'If I make my bed in the depths you are there..' Psalm 139:8

I find such words so evocative, as if a mirror is being held up to my own undisclosed heart and through such words flesh is being put onto my own joys, sorrows and longings.  I long to write in such a way that the reader is taken into an experience and viewpoint that is beyond their own.  To be broadened, to see and bond; to connect with God' or with someone's delight or grief.

I remember once watching a comedy about an angel that was on a special mission to earth, so it took on a man's identity in order to fulfil God's plans. 'He' developed a relationship with a lady but kept getting into scrapes because he had no concept of for example, hot or cold temperatures, pain, the taste of food...He asked her to describe what the taste of an orange was and she was struggling to find words that could cross the void and enable him to 'taste' it himself.  I realised that although this was just a comedy, it was also a picture of what good writing can do, to create that window of understanding and connection so that I can stand with another and see through their eyes; or put words to my own reality in such a way that someone else may be able to stand where I stand, glimpse my feelings and identify.
Here for example is a tiny poem I wrote once about my own experience of deafness. One in 6 people in Britain have a degree of hearing loss but everyone's experience of that loss is different.  When I say I am deaf many presume that means I live in a silent world but for me, that is not the case as my world is in fact very noisy but yet totally incomprehensible. One day while in a difficult social situation, I started jotting phrases down of how my deafness felt to me and it became this poem which I have shared many times since.  Several have said how much understanding it gives them of how deafness can be for some and is for me:

Noise jangling,
A muddle of sound,
Voices passing to and fro.
I smile, trying to look as if I know,
What is going on.
A joke
Shrill laughter
Helpless hilarity,
I laugh, trying to prove to myself,
That I belong.
Why do I try?
Why can I never express the cry,
That echoes in my heart?
As, in the laughing, talking group
I sit cut off, a person apart.

So that is a glimpse into one part of what it means for me to be deaf.  A picture could convey the loneliness and strain a deaf person experiences but maybe not the specifics of that person's experience to the same degree. But the words do bring those specifics alive in one small aspect.  but it is not all sadness, here is another aspect depicting my joy:

Words are spoken
But I cannot hear
I see the lips moving, the animated gestures,
But I am beyond a veil
Invisible, always looking in from the outside.
And then you come,
My dear friend,
Seeing from across the room
That I am disconnected, alone.
You sit alongside me
Keyboard in your hand
And with sacrificial love, skill and deepest friendship
You type every word being spoken.
On and on
And I read, understand and suddenly am there!
And joy fills my heart as I connect.
Through the  wonderful gift of friendship and care.

Let's keep exploring the awesome power of words to put us 'in the know'.

Tracy Williamson is an author and speaker working with blind Gospel singer Marilyn Baker for the itinerant ministry MBM Trust   Tracy and Marilyn share a home together in Kent and apart from travelling, Tracy loves reading, eating out with friends, dogs, and chocolate!


  1. Thank you Tracy. Your insights into deafness are so poignant. My father was profoundly deaf by his early forties with a hereditary problem. He managed with a bone conduction hearing aid all his life and never ever complained, although he must have felt much of what you have expressed here. I had the privilege of being his main carer for the last eight years of his life until age 96. In the last two years of his life he suffered from increasing dementia and needed Nursing Home Care. I visited every day because the care home staff never managed to get their heads around the hearing aid – which had about 20 points at which you could do something wrong. We did try a digital model but it wasn't suitable. I love the thought that he's completely healed and making up for lost time over on the other side now.

    1. Thank you Eileen. Your Father sounds like he was an amazing man. I am sure his hearing aid must have helped him a lot but there would have been things he missed, especially in social situations. Bless you for your care of him in his older years Yes he will be wonderfully whole now and free from deafness and dementia. Is your own hearing ok as you mention his was hereditary?

  2. Wonderful, thank you Tracy. Yes, the gift of being able to put flesh onto joys, sorrows and longings is a great one.

    1. Thank you Keren. You did that for me in a recent post where you shared about your illness. It really gave me a heart understanding of your pain and struggle. Thank you. x