Words. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a writer, I think about them a lot. Sometimes, capturing them is like trying to trap breeze-blown soap bubbles. Other times they hang rich as ripe blackberries in a thorn-filled hedgerow. How to pick and pour and blend and mix and mould them into the smells and tastes and touches of the story that plays through my mind like the dream of someone else’s life? How to turn them into feelings and sights and sounds when they are just marks on a page? Words.
Some words I’ll always remember writing. Or reading. Or hearing. Words that made me feel safe, words that made me feel smart, words that made me feel stupid. Words that shattered my world. And then there are the words I can’t even remember writing. Or reading. Or saying. Words that came out of my mouth and made someone’s day. Or destroyed it. If only I thought as much about the words I speak as the words I write.
Words written almost two thousand years ago, words that millions of people have heard or read, still have the power to make me forget to breathe as their truth reminds me it’s not the eloquence or beauty of my words that that write the most powerful story.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” St Paul, writing to the Corinthian church in his first letter to them. Chapter 13.