a way with words


    I went to hear Kate Campbell sing Friday night, which is a good thing to do when she comes to your town, or anywhere in driving distance. Her songs are full of faith and food, hope and history – both national and personal, making listening to her a reflective and thoughtful experience. One of her songs, “The Way Home,” was a touchstone for me in some of the darker days of my depression. After hearing her sing about her days growing up in the South during the height of the Civil Rights movement, I left thinking about how it is in life that we get from there to here: how we grow up, how we change, how we ingest what is fed to us, what we choose to hold on to.

    Tonight, punching around with the remote, I came across a Gaither Gospel Hour show, which always catches my attention because I love singing old hymns. In one segment of the show, Bill Gaither was interviewing his wife, Gloria, about a song she had written and she said, in answer to one of his questions, “It’s important to have ideas bigger than your life.”

    Their words and music took me here.

    a way with words

    The psalmist may have looked to the hills,
    but all I have to do is drive by Hope Valley
    Elementary to find the word for the week,
    chosen to challenge their charges to growth
    and greatness, or at least a better vocabulary.
    I wonder what word I need to hear, what
    big idea might be calling me from the valleys
    of my own existence to heights and depths
    I have not yet imagined. Then I think of
    the words I know, words I have collected
    and stacked on shelves; simple, one
    syllable words: peace, love, faith, hope,
    trust – all of them bigger than my life,
    yet they too easily become part of the
    scenery, more than the content of my
    character. It’s one thing to quote; quite
    another to let the word become flesh.



    1. I’m more than a little jealous that you got to see her last week. One of my favorite concert experiences with her was at a racial reconciliation event at Beeson Divinity School when I lived in Birmingham.

      And I played the entire Wandering Strange CD on repeat at night for weeks on end during a particularly dark period some time ago.

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