Choosing Our Words Carefully

Choosing Our Words Carefully

I have been thinking a lot lately about “ Words”. I am a person of word.

Music comes to life for me when there is a meaningful text that accompanies the instrument;

story opens up worlds for me into mystery and invites me to explore possibility;

poems can touch the core of my being with wonder, joy, sadness, insight; and in everyday banter with family and friends lies great connection.

I also understand that words can cause great harm –

they can alienate and close doors;

they can bring down a person’s self esteem in a single breath;

they can stir up hate and incite violence; and

they can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Think About The Words

And into the midst of this comes the reality that Words have changed in meaning over the course of history so we are continually having to think about the words we use and determine if they are really conveying what we want. It can be exhausting but definitely necessary.

This is particularly true in the context of faith, spirituality, religion because the words we use can either

open doors to deeper relationship with Spirit or send someone running in the opposite direction;

they can heal a wounded soul or drive the sword in deeper;

they can be an invitation or matter of exclusion.

Through our words we share with the world who we are and make statements that others hear and feel.

By Choosing Our Words Carefully

Changing our language can be difficult but it is important so that we can expand our understanding and live out the gospel in every possible way. In “Finding the on-ramp to Your Spiritual Path“ Jan Phillips shares a story about a workshop she did called “Divining the Body”. At the beginning of the gathering, as people sat in a circle she said

“there’s only one rule for the entire weekend. You can share anything you want, but you can’t use the word God.”

When someone questioned “Why?” She responded

“Because we’re trying an experiment – we’re trying to take things to a deeper level here, broaden our ways of understanding and expressing our relationship with the Source. If we have to come up with new ways to describe what we’re talking about, we’ll get clearer about what it really is… because we won’t be able to fall back on a conceptual word that may not work for everyone in our presence. It’s a global world now and we have to practice relating to people who don’t necessarily share the same notion of God.”

Jan goes on to talk about the fact that this did not come easily for people in the beginning but that by the end of the weekend there were insights, wonder and deep grounding in something that cannot be summed up in the word “God”.

The word “God” comes with a certain amount of baggage. There is a traditional understanding that speaks of a Deity, usually “up there” who has control of life “down here”. It speaks of an other worldly relationship and of conjures up images of omnipotence, unchanging, all powerful. This is an image that many of us no longer share and so the word “God” is one that does not convey what we mean. Some people use other words – like Universal Energy; Divine Presence; Creator.

By choosing our words carefully and keeping in mind the story of others that might make our words something other than we intend we can share beyond limits and open doors to an experience of Divine.

May it Be So


© 2019 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.

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