Saying the Right Thing by Fr Chris

I’m at home sitting at my desk reading emails when a friend‘s email has attached a car- toon. The cartoon depicts a woman shaking hands with her pastor as she is leaving the church. The caption says, “Thank you for the sermon. It was like water to a drowning man.” I thought to myself, some compliments are better left unsaid...

Isn’t it true that words carry with them immense poser? Power to build up and power to tear down. I’m reminded of an aunt of mine who worked in a department store many years ago. She was a woman who learned that there is no wrong time to say the right thing.

It was a cold and rainy day in early spring. Across the room in the office where my aunt worked sat Sandy (not her real name) a woman of about my aunt’s age. Other employees did not like Sandy; they thought of her as snobbish and aloof. My aunt agreed. But sweeping the bias away from her mind’s eye, my aunt made up her mind to say some- thing kind to Sandy. Finally, my aunt managed, “Do you know, Sandy, I’ve worked here with you for a couple of years and whenever I look up, I see your head silhouetted against the window there behind you. I think you have the prettiest profile and hair that I have ever seen on anybody.” My aunt’s words were not insincere flattery. She meant it.

Sandy looked up and began to cry. “That’s the first kind word anybody has ever said to me since the time I’ve worked here,” she said. My aunt discovered that Sandy’s aloofness was not due to snobbishness, but shyness. The two became friends. Other workers soon began to include Sandy in their activities, and she blossomed like a flower, that for the first time, found sunlight. The right words, spoken in kindness, made all the difference.

Words carry the potential to tear down or to build up. But when they are both sincere and kind, they are instruments that wield great power. Never underestimate the potential and power of your words. There is no wrong time to say the right thing. And there is no better time than now. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: (s)he that has found one has found a treasure (Sirach 6:14).

+Father Chris


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