A group of writer friends met last night for dinner, conversation, and to encourage one another in our various writerly endeavors. A poet, a newspaper columnist, a writer of devotions, a blogger, a fiction author…we are a diverse group.

At our monthly get-togethers, we usually do a flash writing exercise: one person gives the group a prompt, and then we all write furiously for four minutes. Then, we share what we have written. No proofreading. No editing. Just raw words scribbled hastily on paper.

It always amazes me how these exercises reveal so much about the individual personalities gathered around the table.

Words – especially words strung together to create poems and songs and stories – are one of the things that makes us uniquely human. Words are magic.

Birds blend chirps and tweets into a melody that communicates: “Here I am, my beloved!” Cows low to calm their calves. Cats purr with contentment. Sheep bleat. Dogs bark and growl.

But only humans come together over dinner to tell stories. Real life stories – sad stories about hurtful words spoken at a funeral, tears-of-laughter stories about blind dates gone hysterically awry, stories about the grind and tedium of day-to-day living and the frustration of trying to find time to write amidst the demands of work and family. Made up stories – about midnight train rides and about the green aliens moving into the house next door.

With words, I can describe the salad I ate last night for dinner – fresh spring greens, sweet juicy strawberries, blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, toasted sunflower seeds, herbed goat cheese, all tossed together with a freshly blended raspberry-vinaigrette puree. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is!

“There’s been an accident…” A text message from a hundred miles away, and instantly, your  stomach knots and your heart leaps into your throat. In little more than a second, a festive evening is overshadowed by fear.

Words help to make us human. They enrich our lives. They connect us to others who live half a world away – and they erect walls between two people sleeping in the same bed.

Words are powerful. They carry within them power for life and joy and hope, as well as power for hurt and sorrow and despair.

Words are magic. They are your magic, fellow human.

Words are magic. Handle them with care.

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