Words on the Way: A Reflection on Psalm 143:8
We live in a world of words, and each day we encounter a myriad of vocabularies that we use to communicate in different situations. I have found that these words are a profoundly powerful way to approach the day: “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8, NIV).
How many vocabularies will we speak, hear, read, and share in our journey through this day? Let the verse be the words of the prayers.
“Let the morning bring me word…”
The language unique to family and friends: “OK, here I go—see you tonight!” The language of our shared geography and time: “Commuters heading southbound on the 270 should expect delays.” The courtesies of shared workspace: “Let me hold the door for you.” The polite discourse about the weather: “Oh yeah, plenty hot enough for me!” The idle language of curiosity: “So, will the Nats beat the Giants?” The familiar language of collegiality: “Great to see you! How can I help?”
“Show me the way I should go…”
There are also the many distinct vocabularies of our workplace: Legal language that is precise. A shared agenda for a meeting. Bullet points in a PowerPoint. Tiny text in a document on a shared screen on a video call. Emails that are sent out to a big group. Emails that are written for just one person. Messages that confirm or concern. Emoji-laden messages.
Recognizing the drawl of an old friend on a voicemail. An old-fashioned card that is delivered by mail and makes you smile. Receiving a thank you note. Writing a thank you note. A text from your son or daughter. The animated language of the true fan. Lyrics of a song you haven’t heard for years. This column.
And there are all the rest. The destructive words of gossip or rumor. Jargon. Spam. Offers to extend your automobile warranty. An honest and unexpected question. The minutes from a meeting. A tweet that makes you grin. A tweet that makes you wince. A tweet that makes you act.
“For to You I lift up my soul…”
Wisdom from a surprising source. Favorite dishes on a menu. A reminder of a task undone. Cautionary words of counsel. Uncomfortable words of admonition. The verses of a shared faith. RISES words. The guiding words of mission. Zealous language of conviction. Temperate words of reassurance. The language of hope.
The last call of the day. The appointments for tomorrow. The traffic report on the car radio. A greeting and an announcement: “I’m home.”
Familiar words to close the book on the day: “For to You I lift up my soul.”