by Enuma Okoro
I’ve been thinking lately about how we use our words on a daily basis. I am a writer so naturally I think about the written word all the time. But during a recent time of prayer I found myself praying that God would make me more mindful of the boundaries that words cross in my dialogue with others. I tend to imagine that our words have energy in them that feed into the energy of people’s spaces. And I’ve been sensing the need to pay more attention to how I use words to speak into other people’s lives, and how I permit others to speak into my own life. It is just as important to discern the type of energy that others feed into our own spaces, and to open or close ourselves accordingly to what is most healthy and life-giving. We all get habituated in our patterns of speech and often our words reflect our current life perspectives. Depending on what we are going through in life our words can carry with them anything from filaments of sorrow and hopelessness to threads of encouragement, expectation and possibility.
At any given time it is easy to forget that the people we encounter each day are journeying on their own unique paths. All of us encounter one another with a variety of anxieties and anticipations, and fears and fortunes through which we filter conversation. Naturally because we tend to get wrapped in our own mini-worlds we can lose sight of how our words either sap or satiate. I am trying to be more mindful of this, to pay attention to how I am hospitable with my words regardless of what is going on in my own life. In the midst of conversing with others I am trying to respect and honor what is going on in their own lives. I am trying to mouth my words after the Word that brings light, hope, and always the possibility of resurrection.
Enuma Okoro is a regular contributor to Weavings. She is the author of the recenlty released Reluctant Pilgrim and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. She is a writer, artist, and editorial consultant in Raleigh, North Carolina.