You’d think after years as a poet and a student of journalism and literature and creative writing and a newspaper columnist and freelance writer with three novels under my belt and a fourth in the editing phase, I’d be comfortable with words.
But today, I’m terrified.
Like most of you, I’ve been watching the news and the soundbites cross my social media feeds for the last week. I’ve seen friends curse worse than sailors and announce that they refuse-from-here-on-out to be friends with anyone who voted differently than they did. I saw a mother pack a suitcase for her grade school age son and kick him out of the house as he stood screaming in terror. I saw people threatening to kill police and throw rocks at them in the streets of my home town. And I saw the late night comedian sing a pop hymn through tears, and the voices of twitter and Facebook rose like an off-key choir and their collective
finally broke me.
Because like so many of the words filling our feeds and ears and minds this past week, their
is empty. A pop star dies. The media lassos his song and uses the word
Redefines the word
Distorts the word
And the people believe they are saved by a pop song and a comedian pretending to be a candidate they thought could save them, alongside another comedian pretending to be a candidate half of the rest of the country thought could save them.
is defined by Merriam-Webster–never mind the Bible–as a word used to express praise, joy, or thanks, especially to God.
the people sing, and God,
–can I have a witness here?–
I believe He weeps. I believe He looks out over humanity beating the emotional (and sometimes physical) crap out of each other in this land of milk and honey the same way Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept. Because the current and resounding
is empty, just like the words we sling at each other because we fail to see the face of the Creator in our enemies, in our neighbors, and even our friends. So yeah, I’m terrified of words right nowbecause a whole lot of people are saying a whole lot of things and nobody knows what any of it means anymore.
and hope means
and peace means
and brother means
and protest means
and I am undone.
Can I at least reclaim that word?
Can I at least suggest those nine letters strung together be reserved for my Savior, your Savior, the one Savior, the only Savior, the only hope for any of us, whether we sit at a piano crying or throw stones or burn flags or vote for the wrong candidate, or whether we are simply alive and breathing, because to be alive and breathing is to be a sinner in need of grace?
Back when we actually knew what the words we were saying really meant, some wise soul coined the expression that the good Lord gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason.
Might require pulling out a dictionary, but we’d all be wise to sit and contemplate what that little phrase means for a spell.
There comes a time when a writer has to write, even if she is terrified, because the same words currently tearing us apart could, rearranged, bring us back together.
Words of hope for a hurting world.
That’s been my mission, my calling, for as long as I can remember.
So I’ll keep writing.
But I’ll sure as heck make sure to listen.
And I’ll reserve the right to sing
for the only wise King.