Holding on…to Words

What is in power of a word; is it not simply a sound? Sounds are many and diverse. Some sounds need to be blocked out as they can damage our hearing – like the rhythmic pounding of a riveter in a ship-building yard. Some sounds need to be blocked out because they can create damage to our mental and spiritual health, like the sounds hurled at us by the schoolyard bully. Others give life and lift the human spirit, like the chickadee on a mild winter morning at sunrise, or the first song of the Robin in spring.

Though sounds can be brief, some can leave impressions that last a full lifetime — like the sounds of condemnation or betrayal from someone close to us.  We try to let them go, but they keep coming back to us as if they were imbedded in our flesh. Other sounds are so precious that we put great effort into holding on to them, and we fear that the memory of them will fade over time.

When I wrote the song “I Hold ON” I was reflecting on the traumatic events that have assaulted my family. My father’s story leads off, followed by my mother’s and then my siblings. Through all the stories there is a common thread of tragedy, and then of hanging on to “words that are life”. What is the power of these words? Why hang on to them? What difference do they make?

There is a story in the bible about Jesus interacting with some of his closest followers, during a time when many were too afraid to follow. He asks them if they will desert him also, and one of the followers replies, “…to whom would we go? You have the words of life.”

I imagine that this reply came by way of contrast. The meaning conveyed in the words must have been powerful enough in comparison to everything else that this follower had heard in his lifetime that he would choose to hold on – and so too it is with me.

The most powerful word I know is “grace”. The sound of the word is like a great exhale to me; a letting go of all that seeks to bind of weigh me down in replace for freedom and peace. Grace invites to dare to be joyful in times that are filled with uncertainty. Grace invites to believe that you are never alone, even when some choose to abandon or reject. Grace enables one to show up and just be present and to listen without defensiveness. Grace enables the ability to receive solutions and to accept the nature of what cannot be changed. Grace is an unforced rhythm. Grace is the essence of a rest that no amount of vacation could ever guarantee. Grace is life; life is grace.