Posts Tagged ‘silence’

Legacy 2: Words

May 7, 2018

(Originally written, as with previous post, 9/16/14. At that time I titled it “The Tongue.”)

In the previous blog, the last point I made was Point 4, but I want to start here with that:

Communication is key. Talking—and, more importantly, listening—is uniquely human, what distinguishes humans from animals, at least with regards to leaving legacy. (Animals do communicate, but for the purpose of short-term needs related to survival. Humans are able to think conceptually in terms of future, past, imaginary and theoretical concepts, hierarchy, eternity—in short, outside themselves. We need to relate to legacy with that in mind.)

One point that spins off that, for me, is that, if I’m choosing to look at eternal concepts to find what’s significant for legacy, I have to look at God’s Word. God invests in the eternal, and two things that are eternal are PEOPLE and HIS WORD. He felt that what he had to say was important enough to write it down, important enough that He would even call the Person He sent as His direct representative THE WORD.

The book of James, chapter 3, talks primarily about the tongue and about guarding it carefully. “You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done,” paraphrases Eugene Peterson’s version, THE MESSAGE.

I came up with two sayings which I want to throw into the mix as part of my legacy, specifically about the tongue:

  • Blessed is he [she] who has nothing to say and says it. Many people prattle on (I love that word!*) out of nervousness or desire for significance, not realizing that often the greatest gift is silence, the most profound statements those left implied, the most meaningful times those of listening with the heart. A couple, or friends, who grow to really know each other, can sit in silence for long periods, simply enjoying each other’s company. The more intimate I am with someone, the less I need to say.
  • How do you know when you’ve said too much? Usually after you’ve already said it. We can’t take back words. The childhood song, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,” is so NOT true! Lincoln called Harriet Beecher Stowe “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Words indeed start wars, and worse.

*A Wycliffe Bible translator—something I aspired to become in my mid-20’s—called himself “a word-happy wanderer.” I am that. I love words, and sometimes think of certain words that I would love to put into a special category because they are mellifluous (that’s one of the words, one that illustrates the concept)—words that somehow capture the imagination, spark the synapses, embed images into permanent berths in my brain. I love making words flow, and I appreciate so much that quality in what I read and listen to. That is a legacy I would love to leave. It starts—and continues—here.

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Strength Measured By Silence

June 21, 2012

A man’s strength is measured by the silences he keeps.

I have observed in others, and in myself, that often, the more desperate the need to talk, the less peace there is. Some people just prattle on about nothing all the time, so much at times that it’s difficult to be around them, much less to want to. They talk about so many inconsequential and niggling things that, if they do say something of importance, it gets missed in the muddle. It’s like they’re searching for something in the process of speaking, something gossamer-thin and vaporous, almost wished-for but never graspable, always just beyond reach but tantalizing enough to keep trying.

Sometimes, I just want to be away from such people. I enjoy my silences. I enjoy not having to say something, and sometimes I even want to just tell them, “Please, just shut up! Just be quiet and enjoy your own thoughts!” But then, they probably don’t enjoy themselves—who knows, maybe they are the last person they want to talk with! So they just keep on filling the spaces with more nothingness in a far less pleasurable and meaningful way.

A boxer’s strength is revealed in the knock-out punch, but it is measured in the process of getting there—the training, the waiting, the ability to know when and how and why, even if only intuitively. A lion’s success and even survival depends on the silences of stalking. Truly great men do not need to speak of their own greatness—it shows in the action. The process of getting there has made them who they are, and it does not matter that the world cannot see behind the curtains of time, history, and even destiny.