“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NRSV )
One of the occupations I admired as a child was an auctioneer. I can remember several times I was at an auction and there was a quick talking auctioneer who, from the moment the auction of an items started to the final winning bid, just never stopped talking. It was amazing to behold. And the whole time the auctioneer was doing his ‘schtick’, he never got emotional, raised his voice, or became excited when the bidding got wild. And he kept track of the bids as they flew in. I could never imagine myself doing that kind of a job.
Another occupation that seemed equally challenging was a square dance caller. Again, the caller needed to keep careful track of what he or she was saying, and give the correct instructions. And do it in a calm emotional voice.
A third occupation, that I have become aware of in the past 10 years, is that of a automated voice. If you listen carefully to some automated messages on voice mail systems, some of the voices will be familiar. I read once that the person or persons who do those messages have to be careful not to put inflection or emphasis on the words of number so as to not give any one number precedence. I do not know if I could so carefully modulate my voice.
Well, I did not take up any of these occupations. In fact, the occupations I have taken many times require one to not use unemotional and carefully modulated voices. In my profession having a cold and unfeeling voice would be a great deficit. As a counselor, having a voice that embodies caring and concern is a necessary part of the job. When I was first starting out in that profession I would actually practice using the correct type and tone of voice that invites and encourages conversation and confidences. When I am simply conversing, I use one tone of voice. But when I am counseling I use quite another. And I can hear and tell when I am going from one type of voice to another.
The same is true of writing. Often I find my writing has a ‘tone’ based on the length of words and sentences I use, and the combination of vowels and consonants I employ. I can hear in my head how my writing may come across, and modulate it accordingly. Even the type of font I use when I write has to match the ‘tone’ and modulation of my writing. The font “Times New Roman” I think is the coldest and most unfeeling, while “Bradley Hand ITC” and “Papyrus” to my eye have the most caring and warmth. “Palatino Linotype” is a good middle ground for exegesis.
Speaking in love to each other is one of the ways peace manifests itself in our daily lives. And when it comes right down to it, not speaking in love is one of the best ways to insure that opportunities for peace are missed. May your speech never be mistaken for loud noises. Selah!