The power of words…

I have always been a lover of words. Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians the spoken word was highly valued. We sat around the breakfast table and told fluffy as homemade biscuit stories about our night dreams and we sat together at the supper table and poured out stories about our day. Lots of times these stories were richer and smoother than the buttermilk pie we ate. These words and the laughter or tears that accompanied them nourished me. Often we’d hear old stories again and again and we knew these to be important ones.  The meat and potato ones; stories meant to pass on truths or cautions. These stories whispered “this is who you are…these are the people you come from…this is what has sustained us…these are the things that brought joy or suffering into our lives…here’s how we met those joys and sufferings.”

Stories were the stew of my childhood; it seemed to me that plopped down in the middle of the stories our individual selves and flavors mixed and melded and something substantial and hardy and warm simmered.

Our stories can connect us and our words hold power. The stories we tell ourselves, and others, about ourselves, others and the world…they matter.

There have been times, in my life, when I’ve needed to borrow words and quotes and stories from others to keep my own pot simmering. Sometimes I did this to add richness or boldness or novelty to my life’s dish and sometimes the borrowing of words and quotes seemed to be the very flame that kept my pilot light lit. In adolescence, I began collecting quotes that touched me or pointed me or settled me. In early adulthood, with young children in the middle of a life storm, I took to painting quotes that spoke to my highest values and core beliefs on an oft visited bathroom wall (we were in the throes of potty training). These words were used as cherished, tattered and splattered recipes; recipes for living well. I returned to them again and again in the middle of the messiness of life and pain.

Now in middle life, there sits a sturdy, homemade, wooden and painted-red box on our table. It holds hand scribbled quotes, scripture, poems…dear words. Words that connect me to others through place and time; words that point to deep meaning and purpose; words that provide hope and land Cor Cordium (in my heart of hearts).

I continue to find sustenance and rich heartiness in the melding and connecting that shared words and stories provide. I count myself miraculously fortunate when offered another’s sacred story. And am forever grateful for my work that is so often steeped in words, story and meaning. For this chance to share a bit of my story, I’m thankful too.

May we carve out safe spaces and ample time to share heartfelt stories. May we open our hearts to the stories and words of another. And may our shared stories and words help us understand the rich broth of connection and commonality in which we simmer.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. ~Maya Angelou

Today, may you breathe more deeply, smile more often and feel more at home in your own life.  

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4 thoughts on “The power of words…”

  1. Wonderful, as always! Our shared stories connect us to our past and to each other, I think. “Remember when…” takes us back in time. Whether a triumph or a tragedy….our burdens or joys are shared. I am thankful we (you and your siblings, me and mine) share so many of the same stories. Love you!

    My side story:
    As you know, I changed schools A LOT. Upon entering a new elementary school, I felt frightened and alone. There was a young girl who befriended me that first day. She was not a popular girl, absolutely the opposite. She was often ridiculed by our classmates for her appearance and other things. But, she was my FRIEND. I didn’t care what “they” thought. I invited her to all my parties, sleepovers, etc. Fast forward twenty years. We ran into each other. We embraced and began to tell each other what a profound influence each other had been. Me regaling how she touched my life when I needed her, and her saying how she always remembered me including her. Funny how kind words and actions follow us through life!

    1. Hey Terry, we certainly simmered in the same pot of stories for most of our childhoods…and my goodness I’m grateful! I’m thankful for the way you’ve flavored my life from the very beginning. I love your new-school story. For me, it is a meat and potatoes story of loyalty and friendship and vulnerability and ways of being that help us show up in the world well. Thank you for the comment and for sharing your story!

  2. What a powerful piece. It brought back tiny memories of the few days shared with your family a quarter of a century ago. Your Dad making his homemade biscuits and gravy for breakfast…..watching the squirrels jump in the trees outside….your Mom’s friend writing down her Buttermilk Pie recipe on an envelope….and lots of shared stories and laughter….

    1. Thank you Cathy for sharing your memories of those early times together! I think my pre-wedding nerves were such that I missed many of those stories and shared laughter; I was stuck in my own head. I’m so very thankful for the tying together of our families and our shared memories and stories from those days and ALL the days forward.

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