Our world has been plagued by the Covid-19 virus for 5 months, and my country South Africa has been in lockdown for 2 of those. It’s a time where we’ve all come to realise the power of words. We’re bombarded with news and interviews, opinions and statements from world leaders. Our phones ping with messages that warn or threaten or seek to inform us. We’re constantly trying to discern words that are real from those that are fake.
And, although I’ve always known it, it’s never struck me more that the words we speak or write have power. Power of life or power of death. No wonder the writer of Proverbs said:
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov. 15:4)
As a writer, I seek to fill my written words with creativity, beauty, hope and life. I’ve wrestled sometimes with not knowing where my words end up or whether they take root. The writer Eddie Askew helped me in this:
‘I will set my face to the wind and scatter my handful of seeds on high’. This Arabic proverb reminds me that my little contribution to life is taken by the great wind of God and scattered where the wind wants to scatter it. We need not bother too much about that part. Seeds grow. But we must have the courage to keep ourselves facing the wind. (A Silence and a Shouting)
I simply couldn’t resist a recent writing prompt on a writing group I belong to: “Write a Fairy-tale in which you are the main character.” As is often the case when one writes fiction, my own wrestles (and the answer I found) emerged in the short story I wrote.
But one day the princess walked through the dark forest and saw a yellow bird weaving a nest. A small flame of hope rekindled in her heart, burning away some of the despondency and bitterness that had grown there over her years of imprisonment. And right then the princess spoke a few words of blessing into the air—a short weaving of words that the breeze snapped up and carried into the forest. The breeze was young and fickle and did not go far, but where the seed blessing dropped, it took root and a small yellow flower pushed through the dark soil.
Over time the princess continued to weave with words—blessings, prayers and poems of longing for her people. At first, they were little more than interlaced strands, yet as she grew more confident and skilful with her spoken yarn, the weavings grew longer and brighter and more beautiful. The princess did not know where her word weavings were going, nevertheless she faithfully breathed them into the air. Some were only carried into the forest, but others dropped their magic seeds into the fields of the closest village. Here bright flowers grew, to be joyfully picked by the village children, who had never seen such bright colours in the time of the evil queen’s rule. (extract from ‘The Weaver Princess’)
You don’t have to be a writer to throw your seeds into the air. Every time you phone a friend to see how they are doing you plant a seed of kindness. Every word of encouragement you speak or uplifting quote you share, plants a seed of hope in someone’s heart. And what’s struck me the most in this time, is the powerful seeds of our prayers. We cannot see where they go and will not always understand the results, but be confident that ‘the great wind of God’ takes them right into his throne-room.
Never has it been more important for us to fill the world with seeds of hope and life, for as the princess in my story would discover, storms spread seeds faster than gentle breezes. And we find ourselves in one of the greatest storms the world will ever face.
Then a storm blew up over the land. The winds whipped wildly, uprooting young trees and even knocking over poorly built houses. The people cursed the storm but they did not understand that the winds brought the weaver princess’ seeds. In the wake of the storm’s devastation, flowers grew from the magic seeds. On seeing them, the people began to recall that once their land had been filled with colour, songs, laughter and hope. And in remembering, they shook off a little of the darkness that had enfolded them for so long. (extract from The Weaver Princess)
So, my friend, weave your words of hope and life, of gratitude and joy, of kindness and love into whatever form they take. Poems. Stories. Blogs. Letters. Phone calls. Art. Prayers. Then cast them into the mighty wind. Perhaps one day you will come to know of the flowers others picked from your seeds, of the colour, songs, laughter and hope they inspired. But for now, just have the courage to face the wind and keep scattering your seeds of hope.
If you would like to read the full short story, ‘The Weaver Princess’, send me an email and I’ll mail it to you (firstname.lastname@example.org)