I leaned my arms on the sill, chin on my wrist. A breeze soft as April, warm as May blew a few tendrils of hair across my cheek and I accepted a moment of silence in the early afternoon on a late winter day as a gift.
Yesterday morning found me, early on, feeling the flick and wound of the casual, collateral damage of words. Words not meant to hurt; more carelessly, words that spread their sting and kept flowing on. Later, one son came home, well into the evening still remembering the blunt thud of playground taunts, flung with easy scorn and landing with weight and accuracy on his heart.
We’ve all mis-spoken, wished to rephrase and give softer context. I know I have wounded with this sharp tongue. I’m from the South, and we can sugar and sweetie and bless your heart, with the flickering hiss wrapped in spun honey. Other times, more gracelessly, I’ve hurt others with words clumsy and flat footed.
But what struck me yesterday were not words that needed to be better shaped by love and grace in the speaking, but words that did not need to be spoken at all. Without them, no needed truth would have gone unsaid, no necessary story untold. Only the scar they caused would be missing at the end of the day. “If you can’t say something nice. . . ”
I love words. But yesterday has me thinking, has me at the window, on the lookout for those moments when their absence is the best presence I can give. When is the gift of listening, breathing on the other end of the line, or with fingers slipped into the hand of a loved one, the best best gift? In that unwrapping I can avoid the wounding that the constant need to interpret and voice and solve and comment and criticize produces.
I’ll be by the window, looking for where I can sow words life-giving and grace-speaking and uplifting. And I’ll be raising the shade, the face at the screen, looking for where I can open my eyes and ears and close my lips.