“I know you love words,” my co-worker said the other day as I struggled to properly pronounce a particularly long and awkward medical term.
I do love words.
My earliest memories of words are of pouring over storybooks and McGuffy Readers and learning to pronounce words all on my own.
Learning to write words was even more fun, balancing pencil lead between headlines and baselines, forming circles and script, dotting “i’s” and stringing them all into sentences and paragraphs and poems and papers.
Now words feel scary to pen.
Words have become weapons.
Words are cancel culture and damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t, and what once was a means to painting the world with a pen has become a tightrope of should I or shouldn’t I and if I do I’ll get it all wrong.
Even a poem about the ethereal green of my backyard seems precarious, these hard and awful days.
Virus of hate
Virus of color
Virus of the lungs and the world and
make everything a risk.
Storytellers and poets, painters and dreamers, those of us who tread between the real and imaginary, the ideological and the broken, we are the hearts that long to battle and bridge the warring world,
words are hemmed in
by the righteous and self-righteous, and the freedom
feels like a trap no matter
And so I am left spent to say,
into this mess
like You do best.
in us a clean heart.
search us and know us when we don’t
know ourselves or which way to go.
the blackest smudges that need erasing in our souls
and wash them clean as new ruled paper,
plain and empty and ready
what the world needs to heal.
“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”
James 1:19-21 MSG