Words have always delighted and enchanted me. Where they come from, how they change, how we use them.
This morning, I was listening to Stitches, the book by Anne Lamott. She is telling a story about a group of teenage boys who accidentally set a fire. They had been camping, and buried the fire, forgetting that fire can spread underground, using roots, grass in moles’ burrows, and trash to crawl underground, popping up in dried fields. The fire burned hundreds of acres. The boys, horrified, turned themselves in. Their parents thought the families would have to move.
Instead of hating them, the town embraced them. The boys were surprised. The parents couldn’t believe that they would not be driven out. Lamott reads, “We rarely think our ways out of tight, dark places. Sometimes, as a community, we take an action together and something gives.”
Something gives in that sentence means that hardened hearts didn’t prevail. That the hardness broke. But when I heard it, the phrase “something gives” made me think of giving–that the boys and their families received a special gift from the community. The entire incident resulted in a community saving each other through giving generosity, understanding, and forgiveness.
I thought you’d like to hear some kind words whose hidden meanings are worth treasuring. We need a lot of reaching out and understanding. Just for today, look for something that gives.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches business writing and healing through poetry.