The Power of Words

Kathleen Norris, in her book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, which I’ve been working through slowly, tells a story the conclusion of which is worth extracting for our public rumination.

At a time of spiritual struggle in her life, she struck up a correspondence with a Benedictine monk. Though he thought he had no wisdom to share, his replies to her were rich with spiritual insight and sober sense. She was moved and deeply impacted by his words.

Later, she had an opportunity to tell him how significant in her life his words had been. He attempted to deflect her praise, being humble and uncomfortable hearing it. She was finally able to get him still long enough to listen.

“Well, this is good to know,” he said, giving me a quick, sidelong glance, and then looking off into the distance, “I mean, that my words have done some good. I’ve certainly devastated enough people with them.” Then he walked briskly away.