Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tunes without the wordsand never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

Several years ago, I was praying while riding the bus home. I found myself suddenly relieved of the burden I constantly carry around, as a writer, to use perfect grammar and just the right words. I found comfort in remembering that, when I'm in distress, I can mutter unintelligible half-phrases to God and He'll know exactly what I mean. What a blessing!

I love how Frederick William Robertson put it: "To God we use the simplest, shortest words we can find because eloquence is only air and noise to Him."

And the Bible also reassures us: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans" (Romans 8:26). 

Whew, that sure takes some pressure off! This issue is about the value of not using too many words, so I'll end my note here. :)

BOOKS: Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and Shadows of the White City by my friend Jocelyn Green. 

MUSIC: In Jocelyn's novel, she mentions the Czech classical composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) so I looked his music up on Spotify and have been enjoying symphonies I'd probably never heard before. Lovely!

For a few days every spring (until the pandemic hit, at least), I surround myself with people who write, edit, illustrate, rearrange, print and sell words. Because I live alone and work at home, during this professional event, I speak—and hear—many more words than I normally do in a three-day period. But in 2018, five words in particular stuck with me after I returned home from the conference. Five words comprising seventeen letters and divided into two complete sentences, each spoken during a different conversation: "The Lord knows" and "Be you."

The people who said these words are seasoned writers with exceptional vocabularies, yet they used a few of the simplest, clearest words in the English language to say what I needed to hear and their messages, like a crisp seal pressing into melted wax, left a strong impression on me.

An economy of words—when those words are carefully chosen—is sometimes far more desirable than a long, elaborately crafted message. And this applies to prayer, too. King Solomon said: "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

God hears—and answers—short prayers just as much as He does long ones. The key is not the number or length of words uttered, but the sincerity and faith of the heart offering them up. Consider the following examples.

While attempting to walk on water, Peter called out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) and Jesus immediately grabbed him and kept him from drowning. The disciples pleaded with Jesus: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5), Bartimaeus asked Jesus to give him sight (Mark 10:51), the ten lepers begged for pity (Luke 17:13), and the tax collector—in contrast to the nearby Pharisee puffing himself up in a long prayer—simply acknowledged his sinfulness and pleaded for mercy (Luke 18:13). One of the most moving short prayers is that of the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus, who asked to be remembered when Jesus returned to His kingdom (Luke 23:42).

There is a time and place for long conversations with the Lord, but don’t discount the effectiveness of humble and succinct prayers, both private and in public. 

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

You'll have heard by now that the Duke of Edinburgh passed away last week, just a couple of months shy of his 100th birthday. You may already know that he has Greek heritage, but did you know that if Prince Philip had used his father's family's name, his surname would have been Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg? Wow! Click through for more trivia about this royal. 

Have you heard of Jonah Larson? I love this kid! He's a 12-year-old from Wisconsin I first heard about a couple of years ago when I stumbled across a video of him crocheting quickly and expertly (he started at age 5). My mouth dropped open: I can barely manage an even row of stitches! He's now the face (and hands) behind Jonah's Hands, a company that not only sells crocheted items, kits, and instructional videos, but also supports relief work in Ethiopia where Jonah was born.

We've all been in this situation. A friend is grieving a loss we can't begin to comprehend. How do we find comforting words that don't sound trite? This Psychology Today column has some good tips (including the suggestion that sometimes it's better to not say anything).


(n) deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions

Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in few.


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