Friday, February 14, 2014

Power of Words to Change Hearts

In the editor's column of the Peace Weekly, a member of the editorial staff reflects on his work as a writer, which includes reading the articles and columns of others; they give him, he says, an appreciation  of much good, useful and stimulating writing.

Often the readers of the Peace Weekly are also the writers he reads. We have a natural tendency, he says, to believe that good articles are written  by good people.  However, it is not rare that those who write good things are not doers of the good things they write about. This is seen most often in journalists who make their living by writing, he says. To put it simply, those who write are often not living in the manner they encourage their readers to live. The writing is one thing; the life they lead is another, neither one having much influence on the other.

When writing an article, he admits that there have been not a few times that he felt uneasy and even embarrassed by what he wrote, but he gave himself high points for the quality of the writing. His excuse? He says he was at least trying to live in the way he wrote.

The Peace Weekly, in a contest for its readers, asked them to submit articles on their faith experiences. 125  were submitted, all of which he read. These were for the most part not written by competent writers,  and much effort was needed in reading them; the expressions were awkward, the line of thought did not always follow coherently, nor were they expressed smoothly. The writers were for the most part amateurs at writing. He realized, however, that writing was only one means of expressing what was felt inside, and the lack of ability to write did not prevent them from expressing what they felt. Truth gave them the strength, he says, to attempt to express what even the best of writers would have difficulty in expressing. 

There were more than a few pieces that caused him, he said, to bow his head, tears coming to his eyes. It was a lesson that clearly showed  him that what is written can mirror the heart and mind of the person writing. There was one common note in all the different pieces, he said. It was the experience of pain, either of the  body or the soul.  They accepted it as if directly from God and through the pain they were able, they said, to encounter God, and by faith to overcome the pain. Whether they  recovered from the sickness or not was not their biggest concern. Their encounter with God was what was important. The encounter was healing for the soul, even if it never manifested in the body.

Granted that this is true, there are few people who want the physical pain.  The columnist said he received much consolation from reading the submitted contest articles.  In his own life there would be little usable material, he says, for a story about a faith experience. His life has gone along rather smoothly, for which he is thankful. In the future, if he is faced with suffering, will these difficulties, he asks himself, be shortcuts in meeting God?  Can't we consider them a grace?  He doesn't know when this will come, if it ever does, but he feels he has received a form of immunization by his reading.

The readings have helped him to see that God is closest to those in pain. He thanks all who have submitted their stories and for allowing him to see in their material how another's faith experience, when expressed from the heart, can bring the one reading in closer contact with his own heart, with his own spirituality. 

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