I believe in the power of transposition.
Merriam-Webster says that to transpose means:
1. To change in form or nature.
2. To render into another language, style, or manner of expression.
3. To change the relative place or normal order of.
Transposition is life. It’s happening all the time, all around us.
Energy is moving, shifting, and being transferred from one form to another.
Ideas are becoming words, actions, plans, or projects.
Music written in one key is being transposed into another.
Language is being translated.
Imagined figures are being sculpted into clay.
Laws are being interpreted.
Pressure on gas pedals is being transposed into pistons and controlled explosions, which is being transposed into torque, which is turning gears, which are turning wheels.
Boxes crammed with thousands of pieces of lego are being assembled according to intricate plans, then taken apart and re-assembled by imaginative kids with better ideas.
This morning I’ve been working on a four sessions I’m about to deliver to a College group for a Retreat this weekend. My preparation process makes use of several stages of transposition, each requiring me to analyze my material from different angles.
I begin with ideas. Those ideas become phrases on sticky notes. Those sticky notes get arranged and re-arranged into a flow. The flow is adjusted over and over again until I have a working storyboard for each message. Then I practice the message, test it with words spoken aloud. After that, its back to the drawing board to fix what’s not quite right… yet. Each stage of transposition highlights another weakness and helps me improve my message.
No matter how you slice it, transposition takes work. When something is re-rendered or changed, it both loses something and gains something. Putting ideas to words is difficult, and something imaginative is lost along the way. What we gain, though, is clarity. Taking those words and speaking them forces us to evaluate how they sound, how they flow. As we refine our idea, something of the original flare may be lost, while giving way to even greater clarity and power.
All communication is transposition. It means taking our thoughts and wrapping them in words another person can understand. When someone doesn’t grasp our meaning, we take a step back and transpose the idea again, trying different words and images, collaborating until the message is received. An immature person says it one way (the “right” way) and, when the message isn’t received, refuses to work at transposition, refuses to try again from a different angle.
God isn’t like that. He’s the master transposer. When Jesus became human, for example, he laid aside his rights as divinity and picked up a physical body (Philippians 2). Our Father’s passion for transposition extends far beyond Jesus’ incarnation, though. He wants love to take on flesh, too, along with wisdom, integrity, generosity, and grace. He is tirelessly transposing his truth, packaging and re-packaging, tweaking and adjusting, passionate about us being able to grasp the life he’s offering.