Listen to the Words

Last evening, bedtimes were late. The boys were hungry. Miska was (rightfully) stressing about oral surgery she would have today (all is well, thanks for asking). I sprawled on the couch, surrendering for just a few clicks to a deep weariness. This fatigue has lurked around our house for a while; though Miska has carried it further, we’ve traded it back and forth.

I waved Seth over, and he crawled onto the couch with me. I stroked his hair and squeezed him tight, this boy adding sinew and muscle and inches by the day. Since it was bedtime and, truth told, I didn’t feel like walking up the stairs to his room, I said we would commence our nightly ritual right there, prayer and blessing as the two of us lay like twin-pops across our leather sofa.

Seth buried his head in my shoulder, and I began:

God, thank you for my son Seth. Thank you for his strength and his courage and his good heart. Thank you for the joy he brings me. Help him know you are real. Help him know you love him – and that I love him. Amen. Without a pause, I raised my thumb to his forehead, made the sign of the cross. Bless you, my son.

Seth looked up, beaming. “I want that on my ipod.”

Don’t we all? Aren’t we all craving for someone to see us, to notice what is good and true in us? Aren’t we taken aback on those far too rare occasions when someone speaks a word that zings right past the trivial and pierces our hidden question, our smothered neurosis, our muted desperation?

And we need to hear these true words like an echo, an echo stuck on “repeat.” For some sad reason, we cling to the violent, wicked and demeaning words. Yet the words that bring life, the words that prompt tears, the words that catch our breath or make us nervous or hint that a rich vein has been struck — those words we let loose. We don’t receive them. We know a million reasons to cast them askance: perhaps the one speaking is biased or doesn’t know us well or is simply playing nice. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps is a joy-killer. Beauty can’t sprout where it isn’t welcome.

We need to hear these true words. We need to speak these true words. Listen for them. These words are life.

15 Replies to “Listen to the Words”

  1. This is such a gift. I am in a small group with Lainie Allen here in Knoxville and I read this to her today. It has been such a blessing to me and to those with whom I have shared this! Thank you for the life you share in your writing.
    -Emily Huff 🙂

  2. Thank you for taking a moment to tell me, Emily. That brings me joy. Please give Lainie a hug, what a wonderful woman.

  3. I love this post. I love your son's heart. I love that you are willing to share these intimate moments with all of us. Thanks, Winn. Again.

  4. "I want that on my iPod." Funny, but so sweet and good. He wants to hear it again and again, as you say.

    Giving a blessing is no small thing, and we don't do it well as Americans–there's no cultural precedent. I feel like I'm peeking in on a really intimate moment here that is reserved for you and your son, but it does inspire. You do good work in your parenting.

    My colleague from, Cheryl Smith, sent me your way, and I'm so glad that she did.

  5. I hope, I could do the same tonight with my kids and wife. Its a wonderful inspiration. Keep writing Winn, God bless you.

  6. just found your blog yesterday – love your writing – you have a great way with words – thanks for taking the time to get them down and to share…

  7. I just sent this to people who hurt me over a period of many years at different times. And also to those who have been hurt by others…I also shared your prayer with my own children…you blessed me…and encouraged me today with your post “foxy lady” on ODJ! I Thank God for you!

  8. I just found this, Winn. Reading it felt like water on parched soil. Those words cannot be said often enough. Blessings, Cora

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