Ever since I was a small boy, we often spent Christmas in Williamsburg. Not only are these various wreaths beautiful and creative, but the ones with cotton pods always stand out to me. Even back in the 60’s and 70’s Virginia had that dark side to its history – dark as in evil, not as in skin. The racism I saw as a boy in Virginia is hard to recall even now these four decades later. There were cotton fields all around Williamsburg, for “atmosphere” assured the tour guides. But we knew what happened in those serene re-makes of cotton fields.
Life is full of light and dark. And we humans have light and darkness within us. What one day is meant to bless can another day be twisted into something that harms. And in Virginia, all you had to do was add “Bless her heart!” to some mean, snide statement, and the thinly-veiled slander was magically retro-fitted into polite conversation, leaving a sting, but one that was thinly veneered as polite.
For me, my chapter on speech in the Rule of Life I have written and adopted is the one I most wince at when I get to that on day –
I forget, 20? 18? I wrote a chapter on speech, which I entitled “speech” (these chapter titles are best kept short and to the point and so I suggest using one word, two at most.) I can be my most careless self when speaking. My insecurities, my small-ness, my regrets and griefs all flare up in my speech. I say things I regret saying. And sometimes I even say nice things but with a mean twist so that there is no real paper trail.
But Jesus comes to us as “The Word”, so speech matters to God. And it needs to matter to us. Sure we may not kill, or lie or envy or even blaspheme…but what we so often do is speak violence. Perhaps because it is so easy. And it feels good. For about 24 seconds.
So what would your chapter on “speech” sound like? I will post mine tomorrow.