On the nature of words


A healing salve, a piercing knife.

Powerful enough to herald the rise and fall of kingdoms, yet gentle enough to capture the tender innocence of a child. Unique enough to describe our own experiences, yet common enough that they are the shared expression of every human. Communal, yet individual. Message, yet messenger. Captive, yet free. True, yet false. Known, yet mystery.

How does one use words to describe words themselves?

Words illicit emotions. They leave us precariously hovering on the precipice of a rushing waterfall; adrenaline surging as wind mixed with water droplets hits our faces. They easily draw in the unsuspecting potential customer and provide every reason why their continued existence depends on this very purchase. They convey the love, emotion, and desire of a partner as they articulate their feelings in a moment of intense passion.

Words are powerful. Words build up and they tear down. Words keep entire cities and systems functioning and words pave the way for the undoing of the very same. Words shout declarations of war and bring messages of peace. Words pronounce blessing and hurl threatening of curses. Words display the best of what it means to be human and also depict humanity at its very worst.

Words are expressions. Words are used to describe our experiences yet in a sense they never fully can. After all, how can words capture the unbridled power of a thunderstorm, the sensation of a gentle kiss, or the magnificence of the sun as it rises? Enough words in the world could never be penned to accurately capture or fully describe what it means to be human, what it means to exist, and what purpose truly looks like.

Words tell stories. Words have carried us for generations as storytellers and transform the people that we are today. Stories of loss and love, desperation and hope, injustice and victory are carefully passed from one generation to the next. Some are written in sacred texts that faithful generations copy. Others are safeguarded in the deepest memories of the mind, passed on to the next generation willing it to remember. Others, undoubtedly, are forever lost in the passage of time yet these stories probably shape us in a multitude of ways we never even know. Words are the content of stories and it is these very stories that help us grasp what it means to be human.

Words define us. Surely they have one meaning to the person from whose mouth or pen they come, yet often they have another meaning to the person whose ear receives or eye reads. We all cling to such to describe who we are and what we do—or at least who we think we are. Our beliefs, our desires, our passions, our hurts—our very being is often reduced down to the words we and others use to describe the very essence of our existence.


A healing salve, a piercing knife.


~ A prayer of words ~

Though words are often the expression of praise, love, and need

May the words that come also be matched by deed

Let this body and mind value stillness, silence, rest—

May it never be said the word given was not best

A healing salve, a piercing knife

May the measure of my words be life

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