The pen is mightier than the sword they say, but I write with the hope that swords will rust, or be made into plowshares. That we’ll till the earth. Share a harvest. That a portion of every field we’ll leave un-reaped. That there’ll be something left for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger to eat. That we’ll give until we’re all fed. And that every seven years we’ll let the ground breathe. I write in the hopes that everything will find rest. So that everything can come back better, clean, including us.
There’s a story in the Hebrew Bible. The Israelites are slaves in Egypt. Moses must convince Pharaoh to let them go. Moses knows that he can’t do it. That Yahweh picked the wrong person. A disgraced man in hiding. A shepherd in the desert. He has nothing to give. Nothing he can speak. His hesitations brim over his hopes. His doubts are all he can see. Yahweh asks him, “What is that in your hand?” You can use what you have. What you hold is enough. You already possess all you need.
I look at what’s in my hands, and all I have are words. Even then none are really mine. Some I find easily like seeds scattered along the path. Collecting them one by one, I save them from becoming prey. They save me from being eaten alive. Some are harder to get to. They fall in rocky places. I try to shield them from the sun so they won’t wither before they’re ready. Some fall among thorns. These words are harder to touch and hold. They pierce. They cut. They hurt. And, I’d rather that than hear them choked into silence. Some I can manage to sow into good ground, into fertile soil, and they grow into something beyond themselves, something bigger than me.
All my best words are gifts, given to me undeserved. Rather than invest them in the hopes of return, rather than bury them so that they will be safe and no one will see, I give them back to the world. I write things because hope is hard to find, and if I can’t find it, perhaps I can make it. And if I can make it, then maybe I can leave it in places where it can be found, so that maybe we can all be let go from what holds us. Maybe one day we can all go free.
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