I have no speeches left. I write this on the plane on the first leg home, hoping my seat mate will not talk to me. After two weeks of traveling, schlepping around a 50 pound suitcase from state to state, and speaking from morning until bed, I am dumb. Hugely grateful for more than I can say, but still, worn out. Speechless. (But not yet wordless.)
I wish others were the same. I made the mistake of watching the TV news in my hotel room some nights. It is no longer enough for one head to speak; five or six or even eight must share the screen now in a mass babble. No one listens to the other. We have become a mouthy nation of shouters.
And now the loudest and profanest of all has won New York.
Don’t give up. Don’t despair.
Silence him. Remember real conversations. I have heard so many everywhere I’ve been these weeks. We are not the voices heard on TV. Here is what I saw of us: People at the conference sitting quiet, leaning close, eyes kind while they absorb the speaker’s words. A man standing, asking a question, respectfully, smiling. A woman thinking, answering carefully. After chapel, a college student asking for clarification, a writer patiently waiting while a disabled woman struggles to speak her words. In all of this I remember that most Americans outside that shrill media box are kind, good, loving, hopeful. And they listen.
Even outside, I am hearing the most beautiful conversations:
Yesterday, in Michigan, cardinals and woodpeckers tatted and whistled from branches overhead. In Blacksburg, a hawk noisily charged a pine tree in the hotel parking lot and a goose paddled across the grass, sqwonking. In Lynchburg, the peepers choired soprano. Tonight, outside the raucous Chicago airport, a sparrow trilled, lifting my tired heart while the creamy moon above it sung bass.
I sang back.
Tomorrow, when I get home to Kodiak, I will hear the gulls , the sea lions barking, the eagles creaking, the spruce trees shushing in the wind. They hear better than we do and know how to answer . They speak to one another in their beautiful tongues, and they speak to the Loving God who made them.
God started this whole thing, singing out the consonants that spun heavens and earth into stars and dirt, sea and garden, that birthed flocks and throngs, schools and herds of barking neighing crooning tongues and voices. Creation was intended to be a conversation not a monologue.
And still, to this minute, the constellations proclaim, the children call praises, the eagles crick “glory!” the sea lions howl arias and even the rocks talk back.
Do you hear them?
Not with the TV on.
Turn it off.
There, words unravel, accuse, shred, destroy, unmake the world. Because they cannot hear its truest speech.
Remember what words, breath and voice are for: designing, bounty, fullness, inspiring, creating, holding the whirling world together, love.
Redeeming and loving the world with you,
One word at a time,