On Sunday, June 9, we had our annual Quillows celebration Sunday where we honored our high school graduates and sent them off to their next chapter in life with our blessings. But something else happened at that service. They said the words. Words that needed to be spoken, but rarely are. Words with deep meaning, but often never said. Words of love and appreciation that should never be assumed. Say the words.
The parents said to their children, “You have brought meaning and joy to my life. . .wherever you go and whatever you do, you will still be my child.”
The children said to their parents, “You have given of your life and home. You have forgiven me, even when it was difficult. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I will always be your child.”
These are important words to say, but we rarely say them around the dinner table or as one is walking out the door. Sometimes it takes ceremonial rites, such as Quillow, for these important words to be spoken.
Say the words.
As you sit with a dying loved one, say the words of appreciation, of forgiveness, of hope. As you squabble with a friend, say the words of restoration, of confession, of forgiveness. As feelings are hurt, as wounds are opened, as tragedy strikes, say the words of honesty, of pain and of reconciliation.
Too often, we assume that we understand one another without having to say the words. That’s wrong. Words are powerful. Words are healing. Words are restoring.
I remember getting together with a friend following the tragic death of his sister to suicide, which brings with it multiple layers of guilt, shame and misunderstanding. Instead of asking about where she lived, what career she had, what hymns were sung at the service and where she is buried, I asked him about her troubles, about their relationship, about any regrets and about moving forward. And he said the words of guilt, not being there for her in her deepest need. He said the words of regret for not seeing the signs earlier. He said the words of sorrow for the entire family suffering through this loss.
He said the words. . .and so did I.
I acknowledged that the pain was real and ran deep.
I offered words of grace from a God who knew of his sister’s suffering.
I spoke the words of forgiveness for the regret he felt.
Say the words. Whether it is at a Quillow service or at the deathbed. Say the words. Whether it is when you pack up your child for college or your parents for assisted living. Say the words. Whether it is with a spouse whom you’ve hurt or a colleague whom you’ve wronged. Say the words.
We celebrate our graduates, and surround them with our blessings and prayers. But most importantly, we prepare them for their next chapter making sure that the words of grace are not left unsaid.
Say the words.
Congratulations, Class of 2019!