Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue
Proverbs 12:25 Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad.
Johnny had just been scolded by his mother, and sent to his room. Muttering “I hate you.” he slammed the door, and his grandfather heard it. With the mother’s permission Gramps loaded the little boy into the car and headed to the country. He took the lad by the hand and walked out on a hand bridge looking out over the valley. “Listen,” he told his grandson, as he shouted “I love you.” As the boy listened he heard the echo return over and over again, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” “Now you shout what you said to your mother,” Gramps told him. Johnny hung his head and shook it. “I don’t want to.” “But I want you to, so yell it out,” Gramps said. Finally Johnny half yelled, “I hate you.” and back came the echo, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”
“Don’t you wish you could get that back?” Gramps said as he yelled again, “I love you,” and stood watching his grandson as the echo answered, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Then from somewhere across the valley a woman’s voice called out “I love you too,” followed by the echo, “I love you too, I love you too.”
Gramps had no idea where that came from, but it made the lesson even better. “Which echo did you like best Johnny, mine or yours?”
“Neither,” came the response. “I liked hers,” he said pointing off in the distance.
“Do you think she heard your echo?” Gramps asked. “I hope not,” the boy answered.”But do you think she did?” Gramps persisted.
“Yes, she probably did.” “How do you think she felt when she heard you?” Gramps asked. “Not very good” “How did you feel when you heard her?”
Looking up at his grandfather with tears in his eyes he replied, “Much better. Can we go home now? I need to erase the echo I sent to my Mom.”
“But that’s impossible,” Gramps countered. “Yes but I can give her a better one,” Johnny said as he ran for the car.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that what we say cannot be retrieved. All of us have sent out echoes that we wish we could stop, and while it is true that we cannot get back words said in anger, it is also true that we can produce better echoes.
Fredric E. Jeans, Chaplain,
Kenilworth Care & Rehabilitation Center