Gracious Words

Dear One,

I began a spiritual practice this week of talking to myself, of mumbling under my breath, and I’m here to invite you do the same (I don’t want to be the only oddball out there?).

It all began when I read a passage in Luke 4. Jesus was speaking at his local Synagogue, and Luke reported:

 “Everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus’ lips / the beautiful words of grace …” (v.22).

“Gracious words.”

Ah, here it is! If you happen to hear me talking to myself these days, this is what I’m saying. My now requisite reminder that I speak to myself before speaking to another: gracious words, gracious words, gracious words. Part prompt, part plea, these are the words I want leaving me. 

I have a gift of words but I don’t always use the gift for good. The not-so-pleasant truth is that while my words can soothe, they can also slay. They can be critical, cutting & condemning, bringing death instead of life, hurt instead of healing. And friend, that’s just not okay. 

Enter my new spiritual practice of speaking to my own soul before speaking to another. Part prompt, part plea, gracious are the words I want leaving me.
So before phone calls or zoom calls, when I sit to write or stand to teach, I start with my reminder: Gracious words, Jenny.

Actually, those are the easy times to engage this practice. I’m more composed then anyway, already cognizant of the weight of my words. But when my buttons are pushed (and I do have buttons), this spiritual practice is more of a no-picnic-but-necessary experience. When I’m feeling hurt, offended, tired, cranky, or quite frankly fed up (which happens more often than one might think) I find myself needing to say it three times in a row: gracious words, gracious words, gracious words. Once is rarely enough for me. 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” the wise man once said, “the soothing tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:1,4). A soothing tongue, can you imagine??

I’m not suggesting false words or flattery. No, real words and true, but words that come from a centered space, an inward place that’s full of grace. Words that are able to bear a blessing or carry a kindness to those on whom they fall.  

Moses desired his words to fall like gentle rain on tender plants (Deuteronomy 32:2). Yes, please, yes. No harsh hailstorms here, grant us soothing tongues.

Gracious Words: Our Little Life Words of the week.  



  • Think, write, or talk about a time you spoke or were spoken to in a harsh or harmful way.
  • Think, write, or talk about a time you spoke or were spoken to in a healing or whole-ing way, with the use of a soothing tongue.


  • Before you speak to another, speak to yourself – your requisite reminder: gracious words. Repeat as many times as necessary?.
  • Read more of my thoughts on this topic in my column titled Be Like Rain



  • Grant me a soothing tongue today.
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