December 29, 2011
Stewardship of words is a high calling, though not one that can be relegated to professionals. We are all called to be responsible hearers, speakers, and doers of the word. Still, telling the truth is something like an extreme sport for the very committed. . . . We learn, gradually, from those who do it well, how to tolerate the “intolerable wrestle with words and meanings,” as Eliot put it, and even to delight in it. We calibrate the differences between what we want words to mean and how they may be heard; we pick them up from the dusty corners where most of the good ones have been consigned to disuse and re-introduce them, hoping to ambush the listener who is contented with cliché. Like Adrienne Rich, who called herself “a woman sworn to lucidity,” we pledge our energies to the work of smithing words for purposes they have never before had to serve. We temper our urgencies (if we are inclined to prophesy) with play because no responsible word work can happen with out it . . . .
From Marilyn McEntyre’s Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.