Speak Only Love

I attended a poetry reading a couple of years ago where a local poet, Ketu Oladuwa, read some of his work. All powerfully written. Spoken from a place of undeniable truth. One snippet cut me to the core and made me dig for a pen to jot it down. It was the following:

Don’t fight to overcome fighting.

Don’t politicize to overcome politics.

Don’t convince to overcome self-righteousness.

Step back from all of that.

Look, listen and love.

Then speak only that.

I’ve revisited those words so many times in the years since, their meaning shifting depending on the day and circumstance. But always feeling the need to heed its directive:

Step back from all of that. 

It stops me. Stops me when I get too entrenched in the battles. Too committed to an identity. Too intent on a proof. Too sure. Too familiar. Too attached. 

Step back from all of that. Look and listen. 

Look and listen and keep looking and listening until…until what? Until I lose the desire to speak. Until my mind is cleared of the thoughts and words that were bubbling at the surface – those quick answers that arise from tired certainty. Until my body no longer feels that tense worried stiffness of being ‘on’ and informed and alert and right. Until heavy calm replaces the desperate trembling. Until I can breathe deep and slow. 

That’s where the love is.

Wait for it. Be patient. I know I’ve arrived there when I feel gentler and forgiveness seems like a possibility that won’t break me. My body feels slower, thicker, less frenzied and more weighted. When I arrive there, the old words no longer hold their meaning and new ones come with careful, deliberate discernment – intentional words that convey and heal at the same time. 

Then speak only that.

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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