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Use Your Words – but to transform

Use Your Words – but to transform 1167 1536 Nicole

A common phrase I used with my children when they were developing implements for their communication toolbox was, “Use your words; hitting is not ok.” And it was a useful instrument that led to many discussions about how harming another body in such a way communicates a lack of regard for that person. Then, after their collective vocabularies expanded, the conversation became, “those words communicate to me that . . .” something about showing regard and esteem, say what it is you mean, how it makes you feel – still show love. And it seems these messages are especially important now.

Because “use your words” is no longer enough when we now have at our disposal, and at an increasingly younger age, exceedingly efficient tools to communicate words (and emojis and gifs . . .) at any time, anywhere, without limitation, ad infinitum.

The poet, Jane Hirschfield, writes about the transformative power that words-as-art facilitates (found at my favorite spot for perceptive inspiration):

“Good art is a truing of vision, in the way a saw is trued in the saw shop, to cut more cleanly. It is also a changing of vision. Entering a good poem, a person feels, tastes, hears, thinks, and sees in altered ways. Why ask art into a life at all, if not to be transformed and enlarged by its presence and mysterious means? … And by changing selves, one by one, art changes also the outer world that selves create and share….”

We ask art into our lives to expand our capacity to be present, to make space for awe and wonder. At the same time, the deposit of art in endless supply and in equally vast reserve makes the notion of creating space to conjure such wonder almost absurd.

It is my hope that the words I use here – written and spoken – be a space that encourages repose, invites you to breathe and notice, wait. That words used in the sacred space might be safe and a place where you may also use your words. That by fashioning our words in way that summons wonder, elicits the expansion of self – and doing so together, creating, sharing, one by one, we might change the outer world.

I invite you join a conversation, share in being mindful of who you are and who I am and how our being in this world reflects the More Than – in us, through us. And together we might transform our world.

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About the author


Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (CO, MI).

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