Symbols That Communicate

A picture is worth a thousand words. No doubt about that. For millennia people have used symbols to convey ideas to others that may or not be present. The pictures and symbols may be art, oral folk stories or print. For the most part, this has helped advance human civilization. Pictures and symbols work as long as they are understood by the producer as well as the viewer.

The letters that you are reading here form words. As a society we have developed the phonetic system of symbols that uses the letters to stand for sounds and that are grouped together to form words. Other civilizations created symbols that stood for ideas. Europeans could not translate the idea based hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt into the phonic based system of the alphabet. The producer of the ancient symbols and the modern viewers of those symbols had been unable to communicate until the Rosetta Stone discovery.

Spiritual ideas have long been conveyed across millennia and across cultures using symbols. Often the stories and the pictures of a faith tradition convey more accurately the lessons of ancient teachers. We talk about Jesus of Nazareth teaching through stories we refer to as parables.

During the month of March I will be talking about the common symbols found in our scriptures, our stories and our art to convey spiritual truths. Most of these symbols are used from the earliest scriptures to the latest writings and have worked their way into the idioms of our language. Ideas like forbidden fruit, family trees and being rooted and grounded come from the symbolic use of trees. The guiding question as we look at these symbols will be whether or not we understand them in the same way that the original storytellers and artists did.

Here are the symbols for March: March 1 – Trees March 8 – Water March 15 – Light March 22 – Birth March 29 – Sacrifice

I will be sharing what I think these symbols were meant to convey to us today. You can add your own meanings. May we never negate God’s love in the process.

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