This meaningless ordinary symptom of acceptance, a minimal label to conquer controversy. Whew, I managed to get all the daily prompt words in for the last 8 days, behind on my writing but catching up in one sentence. A rush, indeed, maybe nonsensical if anyone dares look too closely, but still. Done. Project complete. Except, no. Just spewing out words without thought and concern for where they fall, no acceptance of consequences when they do can stir controversy for sure, create just another meaningless mess of letters that conquer a page but nothing more. In fact realizing that our words are powerful, that what we choose to say or withhold speaking will have long lasting impact, that is truth, for sure. I can’t just throw out words strung together and catch up, I can’t just throw out apologies and make it all better. Thoughtful consideration, deep listening, that is the stuff of relationship building, bridges that heal and stabilize and continue the conversation.
Much has been said about the word salad that our new president serves up daily, a feast of letters that leaves me bloated and still hungry for meaning. Anger rises in me when I read transcripts of his remarks, not just for content but in the absolute butchering of our language. I worry about generations to come who will study his remarks as if they are reflections of acceptable speech. Closer to home, though, I wonder if I am accountable for my words. I know I certainly don’t always say what I mean, my heart is not always expressed as clearly as I intend. I am shocked to find someone has taken offense at what I have written or found hurt in one of my posts. A blog about grace, and someone got their feelings hurt? Really digging, right? It must be them. But is it? Maybe my own word salad has been tossed, something mixed up between the writing and the reading. Doesn’t it matter that my intent is not to bring pain? Is it my responsibility to continue to follow up until clarity reigns? Grace requires that I seek out those who find offense and work towards reconciliation. And then do better with my words.
I heard of a published author who posted this week that she received a really nasty bit of feedback, an email that ended with, “Stop writing.” Wow. While I was hurt for her, I was somewhat buoyed by the fact that even someone of her stature can set off a reader, elicit such anger. That she chose to expose it and address it publicly was my real wow. She didn’t hide in shame, she owned her words and her space. I have invited some folks not to read my words. I have apologized to others, have almost shut down in shame as well. Finally, I decided to own my space. I also committed to being more thoughtful about my writer words. Still, I think back to the turning point disagreement with Stella and her fiancé at the time, words were spoken that altered our course. We all thought we had apologized, clarified, got quiet and listened enough to move on. To share our space. Hindsight shows that night broke the bridge, each time it rained the flood waters washed more away. Since that time, there has been much word salad and excessive letters, controversial notes and emails and attempts to visit, the bridge won’t hold us up. Because, ultimately, clarity and understanding, accountability requires that the speaker and the hearer each own up to their parts of the message. One way communication is a lecture, not a relationship. Words only going out mean interpretation happens with no chance for feedback and translation. Like 8 days worth of writing prompts, words mixed together may look good, but one can only guess at the meaning. And guessing is dangerous when we are talking about matters of the heart or our country.
Here’s to catching up on prompts and one day catching up with Stella. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you oh God. And to you dear readers. And to you my dear daughter.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29The Message