Posts Tagged ‘words’

This quote about using “filler” words touches on a larger struggle that I have with Right Speech:

Become aware of the use of “filler” words and phrases and try to eliminate them from your speech. Fillers are words that do not add meaning to what you’re saying, such as “um,” “ah,” “so,” “well,” “like,” “you know,” “kind of,” and “sort of.” Additional filler words enter our vocabulary from time to time. Recent additions might include “basically” and “anyway.”

In addition to eliminating filler words, see if you can notice why you tend to use them—in what situations and for what purpose?

From How To Train A Wild Elephant, Jan Chozen Bays (via

The further down this path I travel the more conscious, aware, or awake I am to wasted words. It’s not simply speaking without thinking but about speaking without awareness. This isn’t a rant against profanity. The right four letter word in the right moment may be the right thing to say. It’s about making our words meaningful and speaking them mindfully.

I think the real struggle is get your awareness ahead of your speech. Often we hear ourselves saying something and wonder why we said it the way we did. It would be better in many instances to pause and take even one breath before responding to others. More than that, I think it’s possible to place our attention on our words just as we would place it on our breath or our steps… to feel ourselves forming them and speaking them, to be the observer of our busy minds choosing what to say. It can be an opportunity for mindfulness, for words that are meaningful, and speech that is true.

ShoutWhen I first started this blog in December 2005, I chose the title based upon Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. I’ve used this outlet to talk about everything from my years as a pastor, to gardening, to wines, movies, books, and of course politics. I’ve been reflecting the last few days on relationships, mine and others, which have gone awry. To oversimplify complex problems, it seems that much of the friction that I have observed between people is the result of words left unspoken.

Things need to be said, but most importantly the right things need to be said. Too often we dance around the issue and assume communication is taking place. None of us are mind readers. Not only do certain things need to be said to another, but they must also be spoken soon. The longer you wait to say them, the harder they become to verbalize.

I’m a bit of an odd duck, I know, but I’d rather have heated words than silence. Sometimes the situation can be resolved on the other side of an argument but seldom after silence. Part of this is inherited behavior. My wife’s family talks about nothing. They watch t.v. by leaning over to see around the 2 ton elephant in the middle of the room. My family talks about everything, even if not always politely. I prefer the latter. At least everything is laid on the table. It’s seemed to work for these 31 years of my life, because we all still get along even if we don’t always agree.

What I mean to say more than anything in this post is that words matter. Your words matter. Say them. Say them often. Say them soon. Scream them if you must, but say what must be said not only for the health of your relationships but for the sake of your own sanity. Tell someone you love that you love them. Then tell them again as often as you can. Tell someone that’s hurt you that it hurts. Tell someone heading for trouble that you care enough to warn them. You never know when you’ll have one last chance. Don’t let words that must be spoken go unsaid.

I’m in love with words and dusty books,
the taste of deep red wine and salty ocean air,
drunk on a lonely tune and a sunset sky.

You might say that I am a romantic, in the classical sense. I go weak in the knees for ideas. I love nuance, symbolism, and possibilities. This makes me especially vulnerable to the seductive language of scripture.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “in love with the idea of being in love.” Dorothy Boyd’s description of her feelings for Jerry McGuire describe my affair with Christianity well, “I love him! I love him for the man he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is.” One of my favorite bloggers Real Live Preacher expressed this idea succinctly in a recent post:

Christianity has already shrunk in my lifetime from being the shining center of all truth and purpose to something less than that. Even looking at things from the inside, even willing to give the benefit of every doubt, Christianity seems like a bumbling, prosaic movement which is, as often as not, violent, anti-intellectual, and xenophobic.

But I love Christianity so much. Or at least I love what it could be. I want to hug it. I want to throw my arms around the beautiful language of salvation and redemption. I want to curl up in the warmth of my faith community, the people I love so deeply in this world. Truly they are like family to me. I feel I could get drunk on our ancient symbols, myths and stories, the ones that speak in luscious tones vibrating through a million voices across the centuries.

With time and disappointment love can change and devotion can wane, but for all that I have learned and all that I question about my faith I just cannot bring myself to walk away completely. In The Painted Veil Mother Superior said:

“I fell in love when I was 17… with God. A foolish girl with romantic notions about the life of a religious, but my love was passionate. Over the years my feelings have changed. He’s disappointed me. Ignored me. We’ve settled into a life of peaceful indifference. The old husband and wife who sit side by side on the sofa, but rarely speak. He knows I’ll never leave Him. This is my duty. But when love and duty are one, then grace is within you.”

I don’t stay from a sense of obligation or from fear of divine retribution. I think I stay because it’s familiar. These words I’ve heard so many times bring comfort when few others have. For all that I know there is more that I don’t know. I no longer look at the Bible as a rubik’s cube waiting to be solved. It has become more like a painting to me. One that requires long gazes from an open mind to appreciate. Every time I return I see something new in something old. Faith is not having all the right answers to spiritual questions. Faith is loving the idea of what could be, and the test of faith is in making small choices that bring those possibilities to life.