They can be like a sun, words.
They can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.
-St. John of the Cross, Love Poems from God (trans. Daniel Ladinsky)
I read the words above this morning in an email from Abbey of the Arts and felt my heart break.
Open to the possibility of words shining light, of my heart lighting up in the possibility of what can happen when the sun shines through the cracks, through the darkness, through the unknown.
We use words. Every day.
We use words to build relationships, to tear down walls and sometimes, to tear apart one another.
We use words to create bridges, to cross paths, to reach beyond the gaps in what we know to see and hear and feel and understand what another knows.
Sometimes we use words as a means to keep one another apart, separate, distant.
Sometimes we used words to connect to one another, closer and closer until all there is between us is the common ground upon which we stand and build a new way of being together.
Yesterday, I spent the day in a leadership retreat with my peers at the foundation where I work.
The day was filled with words.
Words that expressed ideas, that opened up or shot down positions. Words that connected us, that bridged our differing perspectives that lead us from one strongly held position to another place where we could see there is perhaps another way, another space to fill up with new ideas, new possibilities.
Words are the tools we use to find common ground, to hold our ground, to stay stuck or to free ourselves to hear and see and understand differing perspectives.
Words allow us to connect to one another, whether we agree on the differing positions we cling to or they hold onto, or not.
Words hold truth and lies. Words hold positions of right and wrong. Words open up or close down possibility.
Words are our tools to create and our weapons to destroy.
Words are the language we use to create openings for the light to shine on where we stand.
Words are the language we use to block the light from getting through.
Yesterday, we met and used our words to explore and assess and share our thoughts and ideas and beliefs and fears on the future of the Foundation.
We used words as the language we needed to carry us into the known, and the unknown territory of our five year planning. Words helped us see the ground upon which we stand, and the path to where we want to go.
It was a day of discovery, of exploration, of aha moments and at times, laughter.
And, no matter what words we used, the common denominator was our agreement to use our words to create better, to create more, to open up understanding, acceptance and heartfelt sharing that would allow our words to be heard and honoured by one another.
There is truth in everything and not all things are true.
No matter how strongly worded our assertions are, the truth is always, we each hold positions. It’s how we use our words to defend our right to do so that can make a difference between a world of embittered defending of where we stand or a world of tolerance, compassion and kindness that allows each of us to stand confidently and lovingly on the ground beneath our feet as we find the words to move forward together.
Today is day 2 of our leadership retreat. I’m excited to see the words we share evolve into a path to creating a future where homelessness ends for every Calgarian, every day. A path where all Calgarians find their way home to being at peace with where they’re at, unafraid of what tomorrow will bring because no matter what tomorrow may bring, they know they are safe at home today and everyday.