The Gift of Words
"In the beginning was the word..." God spoke us into existence. To guide us, he gave us the Scriptures. To love us, he gifted us with language, so that we could commune with Him and one another. To write is to show our appreciation to God for the gift of words.
When I write, I bask in the warmth of remembrance. My words can summon long-forgotten memories. I can sit on the edge of my father's hospital bed listening to his labored breathing or I can ride piggy-back on his strong, broad shoulders, a child again. He stands on a cliff beside me, a skinny teenager, and we watch the blazing reds and yellows of the day recede into the blues and purples of night. In an instant, he takes my arm. He leads me smiling down a carpeted aisle to meet the young man who fills my heart with love and joyful expectation. I write and remember.
Writing can bring the greatest joy and the greatest angst. At times, remembering can lead to regret, and regret to understanding and understanding to forgiveness. Sometimes it hurts to put some memories on paper.
"Let's get that German Jap!," I heard them yell, as pieces of gravel hit the moving target of a spindly-legged, blond boy. At nine, Claus was small for his age, his face, pale and his eyes full of sorrow. I wondered why he always wore the same short khaki pants with suspenders and carried that brown leather satchel dangling loosely from a long shoulder strap.
Everything decent inside me, wanted to shout, "Stop!" But I said nothing; did nothing. Regret. It is not so much about what we do, but what we fail to do: a road not taken, a deed undone, a word unspoken.
Years later, the truth surfaces. His father was German; his mother was Jewish. They sought refuge in this country during the war. Irony. Ignorance. Remorse. Repentance.
One day, my friend Hilde shares her story. Before she was born, her father was a German soldier. "Hitler, the guilt, the shame... How do you get over a thing like that?" Confession. Forgiveness. Freedom. Acceptance. Peace.
Writing takes us through the joy and the pain, into the realm of understanding and the freedom of forgiveness and redemption. Chronicling "what was" and "what is," with honesty and integrity, gives us the hope we need in order to embrace "what will be" with wisdom and humility. "In the beginning was the word..." It still is, and for that, I am truly thankful.