I wanted him to come
And check out why we wait
For five minutes or more
To have hot water pour
Out of our kitchen faucet.
He never showed to say
Just what the problem is,
And when I called to ask,
He said he didn’t come
Because the pipes didn’t speak.
Hello! I asked the plumber how
He expects to run a business
That relies on the audible voices
Of the pipes he’s paid to fix.
How does that really work?
It’s a little like a writer who sits
At the computer and waits to hear
The keys speaking the words
That will eventually end up
On the screen or on paper or blog.
The pipes didn’t speak to me.
The keys didn’t tell me what to write.
I need to be inspired by the tools
I rely on for my work.
Clear whatever’s blocking my pipes.
In his book, Be!, James Dillet Freeman wrote, “Feeling is the unforgotten language of the heart; you could speak it before you learned words, the language of the mind.”
What are you feeling now? Feelings were there in your heart before your mind conjured the words to describe them. Sometimes feelings are never put into words. They just lie there in the heart – unforgotten.
Often the work of psychiatrists is to draw out those unforgettable feelings and help them take word form. Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Must we define all our feelings? What happens to the wordless ones? Do they impact us?
As a small child, I grew up in an Ozzie & Harriet family. My dad went off to work. My mom stayed home and nurtured my sister and me. Then, during World War II, my mom went to work at a bomb plant. My sister went to kindergarten, and I went to stay with my mom’s friend in town. Dad got a military deferment because of his family obligations. He entered into a business venture with his brother-in-law and spent long hours away from home. How did I feel about all that change? I don’t know. I never verbalized those feelings. Do they need words to be real?
It’s reassuring to realize that God hears the language of the heart. Before we learn to speak, He hears us. He understands our needs even better than a nurturing, attentive mother comprehends her infant’s cries. Before we know how to say what we’re feeling, God knows. In the depths of our souls, unspoken feelings are stored. Yes, they impact us. They are unforgotten by God as well. Knowing He helps our circumstances “work together for good, for those who believe in Him” gives me great comfort.
Remembering now those early days of change, I can see how Mom’s friend (I called her Aunt Artie) impacted my life for good. She took me regularly to the library. She encouraged my ability to read. Hers was a happy, safe haven. The unforgotten language of my heart feels her support and acceptance.
What unforgotten language lingers in your heart? My prayer is that you, too, have the reassurance of God’s understanding. May you feel comfort in the dormancy of wordless memories. Let the feeling lie in your heart – unforgotten – but working for good. Believe!
Touch my fingers,
Touch my nose,
Grab my ankles,
Touch my toes.
Touch my lips,
Kiss my cheek,
Touch my heartstrings,
Make me weak.
Touch my feelings,
Feel my heart,
Touch my words,
That’s a start.
Touch my meaning,
Know it’s me,
Touch my spirit,
Set me free!
In 1936, when my mother and father were newlyweds, my mom collected more than a dozen poems, cutting them out of the weekly newspaper in Newman, CA, the WestSide Index. Mom lived two states away from her family and friends, who were in northern Washington. Missing her own mother’s wisdom and daily advice, she posted selected articles on a piece of cardboard inside her kitchen cupboard door. Today that yellowing collection of wisdom, still on its original cardboard, is tacked inside my kitchen cupboard door. It’s a constant reminder of the power of words and the influence of a mother who valued the them.
Here is one of my favorites:
The Secret of Success (author unknown)
“What is the secret of success?” asked the Sphinx?
“Push the button,” said electricity.
“Never be led,” said the pencil.
“Take pains,” said the window.
“Be sharp in all your dealings,” said the knife.
“Always keep cool,” said the ice.
“Be up to date,” said the calendar.
“Make light of your troubles,” said the fire.
“Never lose your head,” said the match.
“Find a good thing and stick to it,” said the stamp.
Notice that each “secret” is linked to the attribute of the one speaking. Therein lies the real secret to success in my opinion. Find your natural talents, develop them, and use your gifts to build success. What is YOUR secret of success?