It was an object lesson I had not expected. Stopping by Starbucks and with coffee in hand, I walk down to the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria to sit by the Potomac River. The sky is grey and the air chilly. Seagulls squawk protecting their turf. Planes taking off from National Airport soar overhead. Boats tied to the pier bob gently in the water. In the distance I watch a lone boat slowly make its way toward the Wilson Bridge. The river laps peacefully against the shoreline. That is until ten minutes after the boat passes by and I hear waves forcefully hitting the rocks. I’m surprised how long it has taken the wake stirred up from the boat across the river to reach this shore. Nonetheless it does, vigorously tossing the boats, causing quite a stir.
With heightened awareness, I feel as though God is giving me an object lesson about the power of words. About the impact words can have, even when spoken from some distance away. For eventually words that are shared have a ripple effect, positively or negatively. A kind word spoken about another person or a church begins to circulate and opinions are enhanced. Whereas a rumor or gossip that is spread to diminish or hurt can have a crushing effect. The children’s ditty “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words hurt and wound. They also heal and bless.
And so, with New Year’s resolutions fresh on our minds in early January, I wonder what might happen if before speaking about others we committed ourselves to pray, “May the words I speak and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O God, my strength and my redeemer.”
Grateful to be among you in this new year,