Speaking in Tongues

Gibberish? Or Something More?

At the MysteryLand festival, when I had just unraveled out of an intense vision, I found myself standing up in our tent area. At my side was one of the Irish guys from the tents next to ours. He spoke in confidence, only to me. His words were complete and utter gibberish, but it rolled off his tongue perfectly and effortlessly.

Here’s the crazy part: it made complete and utter sense to me. These strange words hit my ears as sounds I’ve never heard before but I understood exactly what he was saying. I replied to him in the same language.

What was going on? At the time I had no idea, but looking back I believe we were speaking in tongues.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”—Acts 2: 1-4, RSVCE

Did he in turn understand what I said? Yes.

He replied back quietly, and in English, “Right, but we’re not sure about him.” He was referring to one of the guys in my group. Deep down I knew exactly what he meant. Throughout the afternoon a large group of us—about eight of us—had experienced some shared visions. It was now just the three of us still experiencing these. There was a level of shared trust and pure honesty required to continue on with the visions together. However, we saw the other guy waver in his integrity and we weren’t sure if he could be trusted.

It also required incredibly precise communication between one another. Speaking in this divine tongue, which felt paradoxically both new and familiar, allowed us to do just that.

We were being given the grace to “speak God,” to speak a perfect language.

The Perfect Language

Imagine a language where you had at your disposal an infinite choice of  words to express exactly how you felt to another person, and they understood exactly what you meant without fail. Nothing lost in translation. Nothing up to interpretation.

How could that be? I think it would be a language where there are words for everything. Not just every object, but every emotion and in every context. Some instances of human language have made nods towards such an idea.  Here are two examples.

1. Many Words for Love

There is a bond you share with those you care about in your life. As examples:

  1. “I love you” mother.
  2. “I love you” my best friend.
  3. “I love you” my dear significant other.
  4. “I love you” God.

Each of these relationships is a specific “type” of love. But we said the same words, “I love you.” Do you love your mother the same exact way you love your significant other? Yikes. No, we don’t. While this is all love, we can be more specific.

The Greeks had words for each type of love. In his book “The Four Loves,” the Christian author C.S. Lewis elaborates on these specific types of love.

Storge (the Empathy Bond, or Affection):

“My Greek Lexicon defines storge as ‘affection, especially of parents to offspring’; but also of offspring to parents.”—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (p. 31)

Philia (the Friend Bond):

“To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue.”—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (p. 57)

Eros (the Erotic Bond):

“By Eros I mean of course that state which we call “being in love”; or, if you prefer, that kind of love which lovers are “in.”—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (p. 91)

Agape (the Unconditional Bond, or Charity):

“God enables men to have a Gift-love towards Himself. […] That such a Gift-love comes by Grace and should be called Charity, everyone will agree.—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (p. 129)

Let’s try those professions of love again:

  1. “I storge you” mother.
  2. “I philia you” my best friend.
  3. “I eros you” my dear significant other.
  4. “I agape you” God.

While there was little room for confusion to begin with, we just became more specific in conveying our feelings towards our loved ones.

2. Christian Terms

Ever notice how there are certain words in Christianity that are unwaveringly specific?

Let’s take the word “Eucharist” for example:

“[It is called] Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim—especially during a meal—God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (1328)

We see this kind of specificity used in many other Christian teachings so that, when speaking to another within the context of Christian events, they will know exactly what event you are referring to. Examples include words like Assumption, Annunciation, Transfiguration, Nativity, and Resurrection.

Translating From Divine Tongue to English

Speaking in a divine tongue enabled me and the others to speak with such immense precision that you were absolutely sure nothing was lost in translation. It was beautiful and rare.

It was in contrast to my typical life. In conversation, I tend to stumble on my English words or struggle to find that word on the tip of my tongue. Even when I do say something the way I intended, it can be misinterpreted because that combination of words can mean something different to the listener.

Back to the campsite. Now, not everyone was speaking in tongues. Sometimes others just spoke English to me, or passed off my speech as mere gibberish or just silly side effects from the hallucinogenic drugs.

I firmly believe something more was at play here. I was craving to find answers and was being given an opportunity to do so.  When I looked inwardly for these answers, into my own thoughts—which my friend cautioned doing, to avoid my having a “bad trip”—I would sometimes be able to return to the present time and space with a nugget of divine wisdom. I had to translate it from the divine tongue and back into English, which was painfully hard, but if successful I would provide this revelation to them and they reacted with a unanimous, “Oooooh,” as if they just reached a new breakthrough of understanding.

The revelation that was most eye-opening to me personally was the question that took me a very long time to translate: “What’s between your heart and your gut?” It took me several weeks to eventually realize that it’s your soul. I’m not suggesting the soul exists as physical matter, but that it resides in the core of our physical being. We are really just enfleshed souls, after all.

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