I had dinner at a restaurant the other night that had a big sheet of thick butcher paper covering the table. It is Silicon Valley, and I presume it’s there for business meetings that result in plans or complex equations. I wanted to write words, words that tell a story or speak beauty or say something of significance.
I believe in words. I believe in their power to connect us with one another. I believe in their ability to connect us with our own selves and to fundamental truths of human existence.
I believe in the power of words to inspire in all the best ways. But I also know they can inspire in the worst ways. I have stood in the Nuremburg parade grounds. Though all the symbols of the Nazi era have been torn down, the words spoken there still haunt. Words can rend relationships, divide families, tear communities, topple nations, and destroy lives.
Words are things of power. They create and they destroy. They exalt and cast down. They comfort and kill. They start war – but they can also end them. The right words, bold courageous words, can summon us to peace. It’s just that the other, hateful, bitter words are too easy. And too often we take the wide road that leads to destruction.
I wanted to write on that thick brown paper. Its broad emptiness seemed to beg for ink. But no words came that evening. So I left the pen there, besides the few scattered spots from food that escaped the dinner plate and the ring left by the water glass.
There are times to be silent. But these are not those times. These are times for words that come down from heaven and water the earth. These are times for words that bring seed to the sower and bread to the eater. These are times that cry out for words of grace and life, words that lift our burdens, befriend our enemies, heal our spirits and forgive our souls.
These are times that need honest words, true words, words of care and beauty, words that sing the song of heaven and summon us to join.
I’m sorry I had to walk away from that brown butcher paper. But I am sure there is fresh paper there. And it is waiting.
Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABread_man.JPG By Mohanad5ayman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons