Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Power of Words

I received an email this morning that really shook me. Fifteen years ago I wrote a piece about my best friend Greg committing suicide at my house. I was the one who found him. I wrote that piece twenty years after it happened -- it took that long to be able to write about it. That piece has been updated for various audiences (teenagers, young adults, parents, youth workers) and has appeared various places. It's now available on the Internet.

The email I received was from someone who'd found that article -- while looking for methods of committing suicide. He went on to relate how reading the piece "changed a direction I was heading in" and why. The why is not important to this blog -- though it obviously is to the email writer and me.

What is important to this blog is that those of us who write as a form of ministry often never know what difference, if any, our words make. Unlike preaching or speaking, where the congregation's reaction can be seen, we writers cast our words like bread upon the water hoping they find those who need sustenance. That seems to have happened in a most miraculous way with this piece. I sit here this morning awed and humbled.

It reminded me of the truth of my friend Scott Russell Sander's words -- “James (the biblical epistle writer) knew the risk and responsibility that come with the power of speech. ‘And the tongue is fire,’ he wrote. ‘With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.’ Whether breathed into the air or inscribed on paper or broadcast into the depths of space, our words may curse or bless. The work of language deserves our greatest care, for the tongue’s fire may devour the world, or may light the way.”

That my words may light the way in some small way is my prayer, along with a prayer for my new friend who sent me that email.

1 comment:

Nancy A said...

It's so true that blogging is ministry. What an amazing thing that in this age we can reach out across the whole world to people we don't know and touch them with our words, thoughts, and Light.

People go to church or meeting to find the Light. But yet, here it is, among us all the time, in our emails, in our blogs, on our televisions, in our politics. We just have to learn to see it for what it is.

I'm sorry you had to go through that experience. It must be frozen in your memory forever.