Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Words Work

I've got a handful of posts in the pipeline, but life is doing that funny thing it sometimes does...getting in the way of blogging. Imagine!

Words keep being on my mind though. The way we use them wisely, the way we don't. How they can give life and hope and spark creativity and form connections. How they can wound or trivialize. How much I need them in my life, and how much I still have to learn about crafting them and using them well.

The other day I was reading a bit from Leonard Sweet's book Aqua Church as I prepped for a discipleship group with the teen girls at church. He loves to weave quotes and bits of poems into his reflections, and I stumbled upon a stanza I'd never read but which spoke to my heart. I quoted a line from it as my FB status. A friend asked me what it was from. I told her, and she went looking for the whole poem (it was from a book published in 1900!) and posted all several beautiful, hope-filled stanzas. She's been grieving the death of her brother, and the poem touched her heart. I watched as other people commented on the poem, sensing the comfort and beauty in the words, and then I saw one of them say they were passing it on to a grieving friend.

Do you ever marvel at the way words form a web? I often think about poetry and stories as long, ongoing conversations, but sometimes that firms up in front of our eyes in unexpected ways. An author over a century ago pens a prayer poem. An author several years ago excerpts it in his book. I read the words and they touch me so I pass that on. My friend is so touched she goes looking for deeper context and more of the poem. She passes it on to someone who passes it on to someone and...more people are blessed.

This is how words work at their best. They fly like birds and blow about like leaves, like seeds. They're messages in bottles and scrawled notes in balloons (something my elementary school did once, years ago in the pre-green days...we wrote messages and then released them in balloons, waiting to see if we would hear back from those who found them).

As writers and teachers we can choose our words carefully, shape them wisely and beautifully (we hope) but ultimately we send them out there into the world. And they do their thing, connecting hearts and minds and sometimes ending up in surprising places.


Edna said...

Love this--"words weave a web" :-).

Beth said...

Thanks. They do indeed! :)