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Feathers and Burrs

Jul 20, 2010

There was a feather explosion in my bedroom last week.  My down comforter popped a seam when I was making the bed, but I didn’t have time to fix it that day. Each day, little tufts of floating feathers came drifting out, settling on the floor, the night stands, the dresser and chairs.  When I finally got around to pinning it shut (a temporary fix), I had to laugh at all the white fuzzy bits that had weightlessly found their way into every corner of the room. Inside drawers, under the bed, behind the furniture, in the clean laundry, the gentle puffs came to rest. Silly things! As I brushed a tiny feather from my sleeve, I was struck with the contrast to something else I’ve been fussing with recently. Only it hasn’t been as pleasant.

See, we have these wild plants that bloom beautifully in the springtime, but come summer, they put out thousands of small seed burrs.  They aren’t the kind that hurt when you step on them, but they are the kind that literally leap onto your clothing as you pass by – and stick to you like velcro. A simple walk to the outside trash bin can bring scores of these prickly, irritating things on your clothes. And you don’t even want to know what a fluffy dog looks like after he’s been outside!

These burrs have found their way into the house, onto the furniture and into my laundry. As I pull clean clothes from the dryer, I find them sticking everywhere. They especially love to hide in places that can create embarrassing situations later. Let’s just say they know how to find underwear seams. They itch and irritate, chafe and scratch. Yikes.

Soft feather down and prickly burrs.

Their contrast reminds me how like they are to the words we choose to say. 

The sweet, uplifting words of a friend have often floated into my heart and softly soothed me with their gentleness. A sincere compliment, a note of thanks or a shared laugh over coffee finds its way to the dark recesses of my life and brings delight, long after the fact. These weightless tufts of kindness drift and settle, drift and settle… putting a smile on my face as I think of the words that have touched me. Like the finest down, those tender words soften the hard edges of life.

What a stark comparison are the burrs of sharp critcism or thoughtless comments that have stuck with me for too long after they’ve been spoken. They attach at the seams and rub me the wrong way, irritating and chafing, bringing me down with negativity. And when I try and brush them off, they leap onto someone else and work their evil. Long after an unkind sentence is delivered I’m still picking at the burr, scraped and scratched by words that have left their mark.

Let me ask you: What kind of words will you speak today?  Will they be the prickly burrs of criticism, or will they be the soft down of kindness? Each will find lodging with the hearer: one to bring discomfort and pain, the other to bring joy and delight. I encourage you to take a moment to pause before you open your mouth today, and choose to speak sweet words of life and healing.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Blessings today, Rachel Anne