Caring For The Words That Take Care Of Us

“Proper care of language begins in that experience of joy. Or simply in loving the graceful sentence—loving lines like Hopkins, ‘He fathers forth who beauty is past change’ for their theological vision, or Frost’s ‘For I have had too much/Of apple-picking: I am overtired/Of the greater harvest I myself desired,’ for its quiet truth about the relinquishment that comes with age. Loving the Jacobean language of ‘he maketh me to lie down in green pastures’ enough not to forsake the King James Bible altogether; or Mary Oliver’s insistence that ‘each pond with its blazing lilies/ is a prayer heard and answered lavishly…’ We gather these gifts of language as we go along—lines from poems, verses from Scripture, quips, turns of phrase, or simply words that delight us. We use them in moments of need. We share them with friends, and we reach for them in our own dark nights. They bring us into loving relationship with the large, loose ‘communion of the saints.’ Who have written and spoken truths that go to the heart and the gut and linger in the memory. So our task as stewards of the word begins and ends in love. Loving language means cherishing it for its beauty, precision, power to enhance understanding, power to name, power to heal. And it means using words as instruments of love.”—Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

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