The comforts of language are true and deep;
In a cemetery, in the South, so many stones and so many
So small. Sometimes three or four in a row….
Can you imagine the condition of the heart of a mother
Or a father watching these plantings? I cannot. But I try.
“God taketh his young lambs home.” It’s is carved there. A few words
Like water on a stone. Cool and beautiful like water on a stone.
Several years ago I journeyed north from Mobile, Alabama to visit the place where my grandfather was born. As I approached this place, more and more of the cemeteries held stones with the name “Joyner” on them. When I arrived at the country church, deep in the pines on a dirt road, the cemetery was full of my ancestors. There, after a morning’s rain, I found the markers of my great grandparents. With the sun reflecting off the water atop the time smoothed stones, I could just make out these words, “He served while he lived.”
Today I give a workshop on Compassionate Communication. I will hold these words from the past as I offer people the chance to learn ever greater how the language we use can comfort, if not in the immediate, at least into the future if our intentions are to love while we speak truth. If we can use our language, thought, and action as a means to practice compassion in every moment, maybe our cemeteries will be not quite so full of lost lambs who had succumbed to the jackal of our natures.
Where might you use words of comfort today for another?