Starbucks Log Redux: Words that listen

This morning, in the dark silvery cast of a high flood light and the pulse of yellow lights from passing cars, I talked to Angel. She asked the time. She had a cart close to full of bottles, and was wondering how long the hours until the depot opened.

She had time to talk and as I deposited my garbage in the dumpster she wanted me to know that she always cleaned up after herself. "I’m not one to leave a mess in the alley."

She spoke simple words, assuring words, and she became shy when she saw she’d pulled me in to stand with her, open and listening.

We have words. We have apples of gold in silver setting words. Words scribbled on the back of an old receipt and left on your desk that notice you’re going through a deep time. Words that do not seek to solve, resolve, or answer; words that carry no heavy loads, that simply see, notice and acknowledge. Words that know the value of space and breathing; and know what not to say.

We have words from the teacher who wouldn’t rest until she could wrap a quilt around you with a phrase. Pleasing words, not placating or prescriptive, or that come with a debt and a duty. Words that bloom in the loam of mercy in late October. Words that listen more than say.



  1. There isn’t anyone in the world like you, Steve. Your vision is so unique, so compassionate, that you add colour to the deepest thoughts in our hearts. Thanks for being born!!

  2. I just completed a week of teaching, and concluded the class with 2 Cor. 4:7 – “We have these treasures in jars of clay.” I suggested that the words we use are such “jars of clay” but they contain the treasures of life. Thanks for the way you put this.

  3. In linguistics, what you described are called literacy events. They include all things written, from an 80 page thesis, to a scribbled out grocery list or even a ticket stub. Their value is often culturally defined, and authorship of the more culturally valued is, in many cases, requiring of some sort of socially defined initiation. It’s natural enough, but unfortunately, the cultural relevance and – I think as you would argue – the beauty of these less valued literacy events are all too often easily overlooked.

    In this same spirit, I really like how your literacies highlight the often overlooked beauty of the seemingly mundane. There’s a certain type of rustic re-grounding you endorse. I think it’s warm and insightful and necessary.

  4. Michael, A riviting analysis of my small literary event. I love that you added this, and added to my own small store of literary knowledge. And thanks for your encouragment–your endorsing of my endorsement.

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