FIRMLY PLANTED ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
If I had to choose one word to describe my frame of mind right now, it would be “wordless.” Even as I sit typing this out, I have no idea what to write. Tomorrow is the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. 2020 was an extraordinary year, and 2021 may not disappoint those who love turmoil and drama. Is it any wonder I’m wordless?
I could reach back into my memorable history and tell a story, or write about the recent beautiful snow that, sadly, took down my beloved Arizona Cypress, but somehow those things seem small and trite compared to the magnitude of what’s going on in the world. I’m not a historian, an intellectual, an activist, politically inclined, or particularly well-informed; but, I do try to keep an ear to the ground, and the hoof beats are pounding.
While I’m concerned and prayerful about things near and far, it’s the things I see within my small circles that impact me the most, and it’s these things that have taken away my words most effectively. “How? Why? But, what about, don’t you see?” I ask in silence…because right now words stir things up in an unproductive and toxic way; because words are often opinions that breed more opinions that clamor to be heard. Human words are the expression of ideas that can have value—intellectual, moral, with some truth mixed in—but they only express in part and are often misguided, misdirected, misunderstood, and mistaken. Human words, heartfelt as they may be, most often serve the “sayer” and are powerless to change anything.
Are there any words that can make a difference at all? Right now, within my small circles, some conversations have stopped. Relationships are hovering over a whirling sea of dissent stirred up by fear. Fear has twisted the perception of truth, contorting words into spears of hate and criticism posing as righteousness. It hurts my heart and soul. My mind can’t comprehend it and I’m left wordless in the wreckage of disappointment and dismay. The tree shows its fruit! Is it sweet and juicy, giving life to those who eat it; or is it bitter and contaminated, bringing devastation and confusion? It’s pretty clear to me, and it’s painfully hard to fathom the distortion that prevails beyond evidence and reason.
The few words I’ve said in an effort to speak “loving truth” haven’t made a difference. The only words that really matter and have power to change anything are God’s words, and I’ve learned that if anything like that comes out of my mouth it’s purely by accident/God’s intervention. Maybe I can make a difference with love, not words--love shown in kindness and tolerance, love shown by deference and not having to have the last word. Maybe, if I look for opportunities to love, God’s words will be heard, without a sound. Could love manifested in wordless actions be the most powerful kind of prayer? Right now I have no words, but I believe the unspoken cries in my heart are received as prayers, and the One in whom I trust knows exactly what I’m not able to say.