Have you ever said something and wished you could take it back the moment the words left your mouth? Or has someone ever said something to you so hurtful, that despite heartfelt apologies and well-intentioned forgiveness, you just can’t seem to forget it? Words matter. The way we address ourselves and how we communicate with others is infinitely important and the words we choose carry great weight. Luke writes in the Gospels, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” or “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” What kind of words would a heart full of gratitude speak into the world? What is the language of hope?
One man who understood well the power of words to inspire hope was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With his speeches and sermons he artfully designed the architecture of nonviolence, laying the foundation for a moral revolution rooted in hope, beginning with the civil rights movement and continuing today. As Cornell William Brooks says: “He reminded us that hope is not empirically demonstrated; it’s morally chosen. We choose to believe that which scripture, our tradition, our history as God’s people — says about us and what it says about our future. And in the same way that he hoped, we yet hope.”
If we could ask Dr. King today, how “to carve a tunnel of hope through the mountain of despair,” as he encourages us to do in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he might still choose the same words he spoke in his very last sermon, given just a few hours before he left this earth.
“Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation…. I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
Today we celebrate the infinite hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We choose hope and we choose the words that define our current situation, how we approach the people in our lives, and how we speak to ourselves, as this language has real and measurable effects.
Writing the Book of Hope Week 3
This week, let’s pay attention to the words we use as we write our Daily 5 and our Reasons to Hope and see what happens when we speak gratitude and hope into the world.