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  • Aarik Danielsen

When Words Fail

It’s almost 9 p.m. Central Standard Time. During nearly every other hour of this Tuesday, I intended to sit in my favorite blue chair, listen to my favorite writing music—maybe older Bon Iver or the new Florence and the Machine record—and type something for you. Something about broken trust and the beautiful, potential energy that might still bind us all together. And I trust that column to come in its time.

But tonight words fail me. Something about the weight of the sexual abuse report which came out of the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday, the denomination I was born into and spent so much of my life worshipping within. Something about the weight of unspeakable tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. And Buffalo. And Laguna Woods. And Dallas. And, no doubt, some other city with other precious souls I have already forgotten because the mind and the heart are not meant to hold such grief.

Sometimes, when words fail, I sit in what I pray resembles holy silence. Sometimes I listen to the words of so many who are wiser than me. And at other moments still, I look to some past version of myself, asking him to believe what escapes me on a night like tonight.

Because it’s so hard for me—and so unfair to ask you—to concentrate beyond the people I hold close within my little house, beyond this minute and the one just after it, I want to leave you with the same three choices.

Click away from my words if silence seems more appropriate. I more than understand.

Sit with words from one of my spiritual guides and a man I never met, Brennan Manning, that shape the piece I will link below. His words keep me believing in life and light and the beauty burning in others, even when all available evidence would steer me otherwise.

And, if you wish, keep reading words I wrote more than 4 years ago—in one of my very first pieces for Fathom. These are the words of a man who knew words aren’t always enough. That, when our words inevitably fail, life requires embodied love for actual people, not empty gestures or abstractions. A man who still somewhere, even tonight, believes that redeemed imaginations will recreate the world in God’s image, little by little.

Read on, if you will. Then go, imagine, do.


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