Sometimes we perceive a convergence of experience that would make sense to no other person. But when it happens to you, you know you are meant to make something of it. Such a convergence happened for me this morning. I walked into our basement to throw a load of laundry in the washer and passed through a room that once served as the ‘boy’s’ hangout. It is still equipped with toys and posters on the wall, a couch, and tv for playing video games. But over the last couple of years it has also become a home for a large bookshelf and books we rarely refer to.
As I walked through the room I saw one slight volume that was tipped out of the row, calling to me. It is a book I once read over and over. Its pages are dog-eared and yellowed. It is a translation of poems of Rainer Maria Rilke entitled Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. It contains, I was reminded, some of the sweetest and heartfelt words I have read. Lines like:
” I read it here in your word,
in the story of the gestures
with which your hands cupped themselves
around our becoming- limiting, warm.
You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,
and over and over again you said be.”
Beautiful, comforting and imagination capturing! But the convergence of these powerful words are simply the wave arriving on the beach.
Last night my husband happened upon a poetry slam competition of young poets on television. It was fascinating and pain-filled and hopeful. All these young people using the power of words to tell the stories of their world, our world, in ways that were so filled with truth and life in all its rawness. To see an audience of people cheer and cry and applaud for the ways in which words were chosen, shaped and delivered, sent shivers up my spine.To watch these young people harness the power of words and use them to tell of their deepest longings was, indeed, inspiring.
The beginning of this wave of words had begun on Tuesday when my book club, of which I have been blessed to be a part for 25 years now, made a pilgrimage to Mankato, Minnesota to the home of author Maud Hart Lovelace, creator of the Betsy-Tacy series of books. These books which harken back to a time of greater innocence still capture the hearts of young girls, helping them understand the complexities of friendship and the joy and confusion of growing up. I know this is true because accompanying us on our tour through these recreated houses of life in the late 1800’s was a young girl and her family who had flown from Virginia to make her own journey to ‘Betsy’s’ house. She had been pulled across thousands of miles by the words imagined and written by an author who believed in the story she had to tell, of her time, of her life.
And so today I am sitting in the convergence of the gift and power of words, others’ words and my own response to them. Something in me says this is one of the things it means to be human. To take the words that come at us, words of both terror and beauty, and to make something of them. It is how we interpret our world. It is one of the ways we make sense of our faith. It is also one of the ways in which we come to name the movement of the Holy in our lives.
What words are calling to you today? Whose words are capturing your imagination? How are the words you read or hear making a home in you? The words we embrace and allow to weave their way into our way of walking in the world must be chosen well and guarded wisely. They shape the story we tell ourselves and the one which will be our legacy for generations to come.
It behooves(what a great word!) us to choose well.
Have a blessed weekend……..