Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Tongue is a Fire

The things you learn in a foreign this throw-away comment on the bus ride to town that yielded incredible insight into the Maltese, on the way to the prayer house: 

"Paul dealt with a poisonous snake on the island after his shipwreck.  Since then,  no snakes on Malta are venomous."


"Yes.  But the venom of the snake went into the Maltese mouth."


Some laughed; some of us thought that was a pretty awful self-cursing sort of thing.  Taming the tongue is no small feat, and I'm sure not where I want to be with it, but I would hate to identify myself as someone with a venomous tongue.  But the Maltese carry a certain pride in their sharp tongues, directness, and ability to argue.   

Talking with an equally-shocked friend later, we decided we wanted to be people who do not speak the fire of hell but the fire of heaven: healing, purifying, refining words.  A visual immediately came to mind, refined during the bus ride, as I passed the many houses covered with the now-familiar grillwork of the Mediterranean windows--grillwork that now appeared to be snake-like, covering windows so no light of understanding could get in, just the lie of a debasing identity about themselves.  I wondered what it would take to dismantle the self-cursing proverb.  What would remove the venom from the Maltese mouth?     

A quick acrylic capture:

Ran out of time to finish - was trying to remove the 'snakes' from one side of the painting, to represent the heart choice of how one speaks.  (Heart also incomplete in the middle.)  But I hope you 'get the picture."  :)

(Text: "The tongue also is a fire."--James 3:6)

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