House of words

The words you speak become the house you live in. (Hafiz)

I came across this quote yesterday morning. It stayed in my thoughts as I moved through the day. By the time evening was night these words rested in my heart.

Words matter! My head swirls in the confusion of our time. As a writer and a priest, words are extremely important to me. As a listener, words take on nuance that make the difference between hearing and understanding.

Last night’s news from Manchester England is heartbreaking. I know many, many children have died in the throes of war and anger. Yet watching the chaos through the lens of a cell phone brought rise to emotion I could not contain.

Several of my friends have spoken about their tears in recent days. We live in time that feels so unsettling, so disturbing. I have spent much time in thought. Trying to make sense out something that seems nonsensical or unbelievable.

This week began with Mr. President on his first international trip. Landing in Saudi Arabia for his initial visit in the Middle East, I watched – what would I hear, what would I see. Beyond all of the pomp and circumstance I listened to President Trump’s speech. It was confident and instructive. It was filled with detail and imagery. And then words came that took my breath:

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.”

Words meant to challenge – sounding like a call to battle.

I left that speech with a sense of dread as if reality had been set before me – again. I could not help but wonder what kind of response might incur from those words. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the responses that have already been provoked through all that has been said – on one side or another.

Words matter! I can not know what motivated a 22-year-old male to load a backpack heavy with explosives and walk into an arena filled with youth and children with the intent to create death and chaos. Logic tells me his training and support came from places filled with words of anger and malice. A group will claim responsibility with pride and a threat to continue – always a threat.

But logic did not win last night. I cried as I watched the news unfold. Before us were children scrambling for safety. Scared for their lives.

“The words you speak become the house you live in.” Hafiz sends this wisdom from across the ages.

There are words spoken in this world crafted to instill confusion and fear. 

These are not the words I will speak, this is not the house I will live in. I will try to choose my words carefully that they may be filled with honesty, compassion and care. This does not mean hiding in the comfort of what I wish could be. No, I will speak from an open door  created to welcome others and host the wounded and afraid.

God have mercy.

For the children…


Quote and image: Facebook

Quote: President Donald Trump on Sunday, May 21, 2017, at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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