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Words are Powerful

The power of words has weaved through my life over six decades. Words hurt. Words help. Words comfort and words warn. Words deliver messages of love and divisiveness. Words are powerful.

by Jacqueline Ann

Poetry is not a weapon. It is a balm applied softly to wounded skin.

The poet speaks tenderly, letting dissension in

until the rainbow is unified inside her prism heart, coming out the other side as one light, the colors no longer apart.

The poet plays with fire but does not use it to fight.

The poet is more like water cooling the sting, cleansing the thing that cries.

Because the world does not need more infliction. The world does not need more weapons.

The world needs more wisdom — more words that glisten as they loosen the original intention from its worldly prison.

The poet is not a warrior but she is not afraid.

The poet does not conquer but he is never swayed.

The poet does not try to be right; She simply does what she came to do.

She lays her heart between the lines until the world is between them too.

I write, erase, rewrite

Erase again, and then

A poppy blooms.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you for that. Yesterday, I visited with my friend who has dementia. I needed to hear this morning about the power of words. It was a horrible visit and, in a way, my spirit felt like I was returning from war. I’m sad. She treated me poorly and accused me of things. After a while, I asked that we have a moment of silence. We did, and then I offered a prayer which contained my gratitude and love. The power of my words calmed me down and gave me peace. It didn’t stop the accusations so I left. It was a beautiful drive there and back across a mountain. Like life, beautiful on the sides but up and down sharp curves. I’m not sure why it was so upsetting and I needed to rest when I got home. I think I want to write a poem about it because it’s another way to find peace when the world outside is so crazy. I know I can’t take her words personally, but when we care and love and hold compassion, it’s going to hurt.

  • Writing is a great way to create catharsis and get it out. And being gentle and soothing with yourself is a comfort from the challenge. It can’t not hurt when someone resides in your heart and they so visibly suffer.

  • Sometimes words can come very loud and sometimes they come in whispers. May the poem you write today come from that whisper place. The reading today was so timely for me. A few weeks ago, I went to a coffee shop to celebrate my freedom and I started talking to someone who was reading Rumi. We talked about the need for poetry right now, beautiful things in and through us. He was a philosophy professor. I never stop for coffee after I walk but I did that day. And I started buying more Rumi books and other poetry books. Now, poetry is replacing my solitude time. The power of words, yes, they can be golden and healing. You used the word ‘balm’. It is so balm.

  • Thank you everyone for sharing. It’s the 30-year anniversary of my husband’s death. He’s been on my mind. Last night, I had a dream about him where he was really happy and handsome. It was a delightful moment with him. He was a philosophy major. My favorite part of being with him was our talks and his wisdom and our journey together and the wisdom we shared and drew upon. During the meditation, my prayer today is to draw on that wisdom, his wisdom, my wisdom, ancestors’ wisdom for choices I make and intentions I put out. One of the hardest things, being alone, is having no support for decisions. There are decisions every day. And today, I feel less alone. So thank you, it was a very timely reading for me as well.

  • It never occurred to me that poems can be a weapon. I only think of the gentle resonance inside that one is trying to share. But perhaps they can be a weapon as a bulwark against something helpful that has been deeply felt as negative.

  • Thank you so much. I love the power of words. Yesterday, I heard Regie Gibson, a poet who uses his poetry as a weapon against injustice. A loving weapon to help wake up people. I was facilitating an event yesterday which I had trepidation over because of logistics and the weather. Everything went perfectly and the second it ended, it started to rain. It was a miracle. It just shows where I put my focus is where my happiness is. When I trust and accept, when I stay out of the audience and take care of myself, things work out and I am in peace.

  • Writing poetry is a way to turn to oneself and process the experience. A line from the reading that stuck out for me is ‘the poet lays her heart between the lines.’ The way words can help. Some people don’t get poetry and I have an ache for them because it is such a useful tool.

  • When you read the haiku, I had an image of a poppy in watercolor blooming. It reminds me of how words are used to create images, and how drawing is a series on corrections. The artist draws trying to express something, and then you catch it. It’s the same force, it’s the words, the color, the expression of what is in all of us.

  • When Amanda Gorman published The Hill We Climb, it became a best seller. It made me think of comments about the multiple use of words and poetry to bring change. Sometimes I think these words are the way-showers for our new pathway. It’s not always the words on the paper, but it’s the energetic processes that come from those words that bring us to a new level of understanding.

  • I’m glad you had that mountain drive. There is something about mountains that is so peaceful. There’s a book The Solace of Open Spaces.

  • Thank you everyone for your loving kindness and gentleness. It only takes a few words to change one’s perspective. I’m grateful when someone is practicing gentleness. They are being authentic and they are helping me when I need that gentleness.

  • I read an article a long time ago about words. The author said to ask yourself three questions: is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary. She added a fourth, how does it improve upon the silence. These questions have helped me a lot.

  • The power of words - between the lines, a whole new universe.

  • I was in a situation where if I used my words in an honest way, it would hurt the other person. So I fudged them a bit. It was a lesson in practicing being loving. And there was honesty because we were both connected to our hearts.

  • Thank you for all your words, reflections and deep sharing of the pain and beauty. It is all part of this community and it is what authenticity means. I appreciate it so much. Thank you for your generosity of your space and time and heart. Enjoy your day using awareness and authenticity and discernment. Discernment is something I use out in the world. At times, I choose not to share my heart; other times, I choose to share my heart. And that is all done with discernment. It is part of my strength. Each of us has that ability. With that in mind, I hope you all have a gentle day.

Photo credit: Painting on silk scarf by Judith Dutton

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