Despite the great advances in ways of communicating it seems that the number of people who feel alone, lonely or alienated increases all the time. They surf the Web, browse on the Internet, sign on to numerous ‘connecting’ sites but somehow , the bright promise of relationships all too often proves to be an unfilled hope.
“My children don’t talk to me,” laments a father, “they simply grunt.” And some schools, according to a recent report, plan to have special classes to teach children to speak in full sentences. Unable to express what is deep in their hearts, many people end up frustrated and sometimes become violent. Our failure to connect with another is always a tragedy. As a character in Sebastian Barry’s novel 'The Secret Scripture’ says, referring to his wife, ‘We have neglected the tiny sentences of life and now the big ones are beyond our reach.”
These tiny sentences of life are the indispensable building blocks of any good relationship, of any community. We need to speak them, we need to hear them. Words of gratitude, acknowledgments of work well done, a robust word of encouragement, a loving word of praise. Concern expressed gently, care voiced simply. These are phrases that release energies, uncover hope, give new vision. How nourishing, how uplifting are these little, unremarkable sentences when they come like a blessing from your heart!
When our words are a gift to others, not thoughtless junk, or grunts, God’s Word is honoured. Having care for the little sentences, we learn, almost unknown to ourselves, how to speak the big sentences in life.
An old Hasidic poem knows the wisdom of words:
A person who wakes up in the morning is like a new creation.
If you begin your day with unkind words, or even trivial matters -
even though you may later turn to prayer, you have not been true to your Creation.
All of your words each day are related to one another.
All of them are rooted in the first words that you speak.
Lord, Word of God, may we speak well today, with truth and with kindness.
Sr Redempta Twomey is Assistant Editor of the Far East at St Columban’s, Navan, Ireland.