«The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little» (Proverbs 10:20).
In El cartero de Neruda [Neruda’s Postman], the Chilean writer Antonio Skármeta explains the power words have on a human being. Mario Jiménez is a young man who lives in Isla Negra, a secluded province off the coast of Chile. One day he gets a job as a postman delivering correspondence to the only literate person in his area: Pablo Neruda. Every day, Mario rides his bicycle and delivers to the poet letters, telegrams, and packages that come to him from various places. This a friendship between them is born and, in Mario, a deep admiration toward the literate man. The poet teaches him how to elaborate on metaphors and contemplate nature. After that, the boy spends hours reading books and meditating on the teachings of his renowned teacher.
Soon after, Mario falls in love with Beatriz González, the daughter of a widow who owns a modest inn. But now, the tongue of the humble postman is a sword that pierces hearts. The girl does not resist the bombardment of poems and love letters from the young man. The widow’s reaction is one of concern, annoyance, and anger. She’s determined to take action against the postman. In the face of this situation, Mario says to Neruda: «Poet and friend: You got me into this mess, and you can get me out of it. You gave me your books, taught me how to make use of my tongue for something more than licking stamps. It is your fault that I have fallen in love.»
The tongue has more power than you can imagine. In a sense, Antonio Skármeta is right when he says—through the lips of Mario Jiménez—that the tongue has higher uses than just licking stamps. In fact, the tongue is the basic instrument of human communication. That’s what make us special in regard to the rest of the species in this world. Language is a heritage that has been built for centuries, not only by writers, scholars, and academia, but by anonymous people who have been enriching it. And it is because the tongue has a power that many disregards. We are what we speak. Words transform our lives. Throughout our lives we learn words, practice them, transmit them, and recycle them. Our own expressions come to convince us of unfounded illusions or glorious truths that give meaning to our existence.
In God’s hands, the tongue remains one of the most powerful weapons to transform lives, for both the transmitter and the receiver.
Today ask the Lord to help you use your tongue in the best way in order to understand, share, and proclaim His Word.