I’ve learned to accomplish a fair amount when people all around are doing just that. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but somewhere along the way I developed the ability to read, think and write smack in the middle of a crowded room. Bookstores have evolved into coffee houses and talk shops you know. It may be both the caffeine and the external stimulation that energizes me. Fridays often find me there.
I enjoy listening to people talk, whether it’s eavesdropping at Borders, bouncing from “wall to wall’ on Facebook, or “tweeting” on Twitter. People are going to talk. We all do, even when our attention should be on the road and the wheel, not the cell phone. People talk.
I don’t enjoy it so much when it is careless. There’s so much talk—we tend to underestimate its effect. Words are treated so casually, diminished to simple texts on a Blackberry, electronically reduced to formless email, or scrolled across the bottom of a television monitor as if they were all of equal value.
Talk is not cheap. Not at all. It matters. What we say and when we say it really count. When friends surround one another during times of crisis, quiet words of comfort and concern give timely strength and peace. Talk is priceless when—someone tells the truth to one who has asked for it, one ends a quarrel with words of forgiveness, an adult bends to encourage a little one. But it can sure be devastating. I’ve seen families, friends, even churches torn apart by foul language. People talk—for good or bad.
It is true, isn’t it? If you think about it, not one of us would have ever come to faith apart from someone having said something to us. Words as simple as, “Hey, why don’t you come to church with me?” Maybe it was nothing more than, “I’ll pray for you,” or “God bless.” Whatever it may have been, the fact is someone at one time or another said something that touched us, “spoke” to us, or maybe challenged or even angered us. It whetted your appetite or made you curious enough to take a step toward God or home or someone we love.
That is how it’s been working for two millennia now. That is how a carpenter’s son from Nazareth has become known all over the world. It’s all because people talk. People talk and word travels. People talk and lives are transformed. People talk and people are made whole. People talk and churches are established. People talk and the poor, the sick, and the broken are mended.
Just think what we could accomplish if we would talk more like that.