W-O-R-D-S by Rick Reamer
Say the word slowly; it has a soft, soothing sound. But a simple rearranging of one letter turns WORDS into SWORD, which sounds much sharper. SWORD is an onomatopoeia: the use of a word that sounds like what it means.
Most of the time, I love words. I always have. Sometimes I’ll pull out my thick dictionary and flip through it – usually while I’m eating a snack – and hunt for esoteric words. I’m continually amazed and humbled by the number of words I don’t know.
What I’ve learned during my life is that words matter. They really matter. We use words to connect with one another, ideally in pleasant ways. When life works well, we use words to make and keep friends, and to tell special people that we love them. During a rough patch, we use words to try to work things out with people who matter to us. Words communicate what we care about, what we feel, what we believe.
I am awed by the power that words have to enrich my life and connect me with others. Most of the time ordinary words – words that are “inside the box” – work just fine. But there are those special, sometimes challenging times, when we have to think “outside the box” for the right words.
Sadly, words sometimes get twisted and are used to stab, like a verbal sword. I’ve spent much of my adulthood working with prison inmates. Too often I’ve seen (and heard) how vicious, stinging words can lead to murder, rape, and strangulation.
I love it when words inspire. I spend lots of my time teaching. I work hard to string words together to help my audience learn, to grasp the magic of good ideas, and to use these ideas to improve our world, one word at a time.
Some of my favorite words have no sound – they’re silent. I roll them around in my mind when I’m feeling especially contemplative, like during a synagogue service or when I think about my children, or take a tranquil hike with my dear wife along the shore. Sometimes I think these are the best words, the ones that no one else hears – except maybe God.