It cannot be what words do when no one is looking, because when no one is looking, there are no words. Words correspond to the stuff going on in our heads. And when our attention is diverted, our words form around the diversion. Maybe the secret life of words has to do with how they rise up like phantoms from the foggy mire in our brains, as we work out a thought. Maybe words rise in two or threes and we pluck out the best one to utter. And when we say it aloud, we suddenly see the truth—or lack of truth—simply from the look on the face of the person we are communicating with. There are other words rising from that foggy marsh. We do not hesitate to go back to pluck another.

 

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It’s funny about words: they get lifted off a page and slammed against a completely different part of your life with exceptional, even mystical results. For instance: I’ve been slowly reading Doug Pagitt’s “Church Re-imagined” and find myself agreeing with much of what he says about the pulpit as a power structure and the need to hear many voices not just one. He was talking about how they do communion at Solomon’s Porch and how it gets kinda messy, with people holding glasses and bread and then suddenly needing to hold hands. He wrote:

 

“There is tremendous value in letting go of one thing intentionally in order to take hold of something else.” (99)

 

I understood what he meant for his church setting. Then suddenly I understood those words as applying to a client I was hanging on to. Perhaps I needed to intentionally let go of that client to experience the something else, the next thing God has for me.

 

Words have an out-of-control power sometimes—where they can lead can be dangerous. Dangerously truthful. Dangerously raw. Is the power in the words or in the audience? The only answer to that is, “Yes.”

 

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September 2, 2008

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